California is enduring its fifth consecutive year of severe drought, and scientists suggest the end is not in sight. The state's reservoirs are at just 46.4% of their capacity. Using images captured by the Landsat 7 and Landsat 8 satellites and supplied by Lakepedia.com, we can see how 10 of California's lakes and reservoirs have shrunk during the 21st century.

The "before" picture for each slide is from September or October 2001, while the "after" picture is from the same month in 2016. Move the slider over each image to see how the drought has affected the landscape.


Lake San Antonio is located in Monterey County and covers an area of 8.9 square miles (23 square kilometres). The lake is formed by the San Antonio Dam on the San Antonio River. The dam was completed in 1965, and is 202 feet (62m) tall. Lake San Antonio has a total capacity of 430 billion litres.

California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
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Lake San Antonio in 2001 and 2016

Lake Casitas is located in the Los Padres National Forest, in Ventura County. It was created by the construction of Casitas Dam on Coyote Creek, before it joins the Ventura River. The dam was was completed in 1959, and is 334 ft (102m) high. Lake Casitas has a total capacity of 313 billion litres. The water level in the lake has been in decline since April 2011, when the reservoir was 87.3% full.

California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
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Lake Casitas in 2001 and 2016

New Melones Lake is located in the central Sierra Nevada Foothills on the Stanislaus River, and has a surface area of 19.6 square miles (51 square kilometres) and a total capacity of 300 billion litres. The reservoir is formed by the New Melones Dam, which is 625 ft (191 m) high. The water level in the lake has been in an almost continuous decline since July 2011.

California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
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New Melones Lake in 2001 and 2016

Santa Margarita Lake, also called the Salinas Reservoir, is located several miles south-east of the town of Santa Margarita in San Luis Obispo County. The lake was created by the construction of Salinas Dam on the southern end of the Salinas River. The dam was built in 1941, and the lake provides the city of San Luis Obispo with a portion of its drinking water. The lake's total capacity is around 3 billion litres, but the water level has been declining since June 2011.

California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
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Santa Margarita Lake in 2001 and 2016

Lake Cachuma is located in central Santa Barbara County, on the Santa Ynez River. The reservoir was created by the construction of Bradbury Dam in 1953, which is 201 ft (61 m) high. When completely full, Lake Cachuma contains about 250 billion litres of water, with a surface area of five square miles (13 square kilometres), but it hasn't reached these levels since July 2011.

California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
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Lake Cachuma in 2001 and 2016

San Luis Reservoir is the fifth largest reservoir in California, approximately nine miles (14 km) long and five miles (8 km) wide, with a capacity of 2.5 trillion litres. It is located in Merced County, west of Los Banos on State Route 152. The dam that created the reservoir is called San Luis Dam, was completed in 1967, and is the fourth largest embankment dam in the United States. The last time the reservoir came close to reaching full capacity was in April 2011.

California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
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San Luis Reservoir in 2001 and 2016

Lake Berryessa is located in Napa County, and was formed by the Monticello Dam, a 304-foot (93m) concrete arch dam that was completed in 1957. Lake Berryessa hasn't reached its full capacity of nearly 3 trillion litres since April 2006.

California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
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Lake Berryessa in 2001 and 2016

Trinity Lake was formed by Trinity Dam, which was completed in the early 1960s and stands 538 ft (164 m) high. The lake, on the Trinity River, is one of the largest reservoirs in California. It came close to reaching its full capacity of 3 trillion litres in June 2011, but hasn't reached average historical levels since 2013.

California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
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Trinity Lake in 2001 and 2016

Lake Perris was completed in 1973, and is located in a mountain-rimmed valley between Moreno Valley and Perris, in what is now the Lake Perris State Recreation Area. The dam that impounds the lake is 128 ft (39 m) high. The lake hasn't reached its average historic level since September 2005.

California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
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Lake Perris in 2001 and 2016

Lake Piru is located in Los Padres National Forest of Ventura County. It was created in 1955 by the construction of the Santa Felicia Dam on Piru Creek. It has a capacity of 102 billion litres, but the water level has been in a steep decline since August 2012.

California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
California drought reservoirs Lakepedia
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Lake Piru in 2001 and 2016

Landsat imagery courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre and US Geological Survey, and supplied by Lakepedia, the online encyclopedia of lakes.