Lake Level Status: 2/14/17 (9 AM)

Lake Berryessa is stable at 439.4 feet (9 AM) - .6 foot (7.2 inches) below Glory Hole. This is 99.9% of its capacity based on lake level. The dam has been releasing 700 cfs for the last 3 days, up from 45 cfs daily for the previous month, which is one reason the lake is no longer rising.

The lake level at this time last year was 401.2 feet, 38.2 feet lower than today.

The level has risen 40.8 feet since its low of 398.6 feet on 10/23/16 and 35.7 feet since January 1, 2017.

Rainfall total remains at 34.0 inches - 7.3 inches added since February 1.

With this week’s predicted rainfall, Glory Hole may spill naturally by Saturday (no wakeboard boats to help this time). 

This latest beautiful drone video takes you on a aerial tour from Putah Creek at the north, down the west shore and south shore back to the dam. Also goes inside the Spanish Flat Country Store and above Turtle Rock.


Glory Hole spills 021217


How Fast Can Lake Berryessa Rise?

Over the years the rise in lake level has been relatively consistent depending on rain intensity, ground saturation, and starting level. At the beginning of a rain season when the ground is dry, it takes about 2-3 inches of rain before runoff actually starts increasing the lake level.

During an average rainfall year with storms spread out and the ground drying out between storms, the average is 7 inches of lake level rise per 1 inch of rainfall. During wetter years, depending on timing, the average becomes 1 foot of lake level rise per 1 inch of rainfall. During very wet years with ground saturation and heavy storms with little ground drying between storms, the average can reach 1.1 to 1.4 feet or higher of lake level rise per 1 inch of rainfall.


Water In, Water Out, But From Where?

The rain causing the rapid increase in lake levels raises questions for some about where all the water comes from and where it goes. The lake is rising and lower Putah Creek is flowing fast, but not much water is being released from the dam. And some people question why any water is being released from Lake Berryessa when it is not yet full.

Many people don’t understand that Lake Berryessa was created for: 1. Irrigation in Solano County, 2. Drinking water (now for 500,000 people). Recreational use was not considered a priority because of the large swings in water level expected. 

Many also don’t realize that Napa County gets little of Lake Berryessa water except for the small villages scattered around the lake like the Berryessa Highlands, Spanish Flat, Berryessa Pines, and Berryessa Estates. But that’s a political history story for another day.

The watershed for Lake Berryessa is derived from the 568 square mile drainage basin above the dam. There are four principal creeks that flow into Lake Berryessa: Capell Creek, Pope Creek, Eticuera Creek, and Putah Creek - the main drainage of the basin.

Although there’s a lot of water flowing in Lower Putah Creek, nearly 90% of the Putah Creek watershed is above Lake Berryessa, and most  of the rain is flowing into Lake Berryessa NOT OUT OF IT. Nearly all of the flow in Putah Creek near Winters today is from the main creeks below Lake Berryessa.

There are four main creeks below Berryessa. They are Wildhorse Creek (Cold Creek) right next to the Monticello Dam, Pleasant's Creek which empties into Lake Solano, and McCune Creek and Dry Creek below the Diversion Dam just upstream of the railroad bridge at Winters.

For example, the total flow out of Lake Berryessa was 1,625 acre-feet (AF) for January, 2017. During that same period, the lake’s capacity rose by 399,970 AF. The output was only 0.4% of the input. (1 CFS = 1.98 acre-feet per day; 1 AF = 325,851 US gallons per day)

The Solano Irrigation District monitors this and actually reduces flows from the bottom of Lake Berryessa during rain events to conserve as much water as possible in the lake. But the flow needs to be at least 45 CFS in order to properly operate the power house - this has been the average outflow every day for the full month of January, 2017.

The photos below show what a difference 3 months makes!

Glory Hole 012617 combo
Rainbow into lake Teed


Watch Lake Berryessa rise in real time at:



Lake Berryessa Senior Center

Join the fun. You don’t have to be a “senior” to join the organization. Dues are just $25 a year and you only have to be 50 to be an official member. The Senior Center is a self-supporting non-profit organization. They have regular events such as Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, the annual Crab Feed, summer bbqs, and various fundraisers. Bingo is at 1:00PM until 4:00PM every Monday afternoon.

Saturday, February 18, 2017: Annual Crab Feed. Traditionally one of the biggest social events at Lake Berryessa. Not to be missed. 

Salad, Pasta, Bread, Crab & Wine - $50

No Host Cocktails - 5:30 PM

Dinner - 6:30 PM

Call for tickets: 966-0206, 4380 Spanish Flat Loop Rd.

Tickets available at the Spanish Flat Country Store and Turtle Rock.

(No outside alcoholic beverages permitted.)

The Center is available to rent for special occasions. There is a minimal charge and a cleaning deposit. Call for details: 966-0206, 4380 Spanish Flat Loop Rd. In the past the Center has hosted weddings, receptions, memorials, and many community functions such as blood drives, flu shots, Bureau of Reclamation presentations and community meetings.




Berryessa Valley and the Town of Monticello Historical Photos and Videos from before Lake Berryessa covered it.

Berryessa Valley photo

Thanks to Carol Fitzpatrick for creating the Berryessa Valley Exhibit at the Spanish Flat Village Center described in the first video.



Click Photo For A Real Time Webcam View of Lake Berryessa



Lake Berryessa History 2010

The Bureau of Reclamation has destroyed family recreation at Lake Berryessa for a generation of children. Here's an interview I did in 2010, three years after the interview below with Pat Monaghan and just after Pensus had been given the contract for 5 resorts. As we all know Pensus was subsequently kicked out in 2012.    

How Could the Government Have Done Something So Stupid?

Many people ask me about the history of the process that led to the present situation at Lake Berryessa. When I explain what happened most become incredulous and can't believe the government could have done something so stupid. "How could they have gotten away with that?" they exclaim.

Here's a 2007 TV interview with Pat Monaghan, cofounder of Task Force 7 at Lake Berryessa, to give you some historical insight. Those of you who remember Pete Lucero will recognize his description of what we called "The Big Lie" - which turned into the "Epic Fail".

Full lake level history 2015


Winters Express logo

The Winters Express


Lake Level Fifty Year History


pkilkus@gmail.com                       © Peter Kilkus 2016