Spicer Resevoir then and now…. drought conditions

We were out for one of our fun drives in the mountains, heading up past Murphys and Arnold.  There was a place that we loved, called Spicer Dam or Spicer Meadow Reservoir.

The Reservoir was built in 1989 to provide electricity. According to Wikipedia:

New Spicer Meadow Reservoir is a reservoir in Stanislaus National Forest in the Sierra Nevada, in Tuolumne County, near the Alpine County line, at an elevation of 6,621 feet (2,018 m). The 189,000 acre foot (233,000,000 m3) reservoir is formed by New Spicer Meadow Dam on Highland Creek, a tributary of the Stanislaus River. The 265-foot (81 m) tall dam is composed of rock-fill and was completed in 1989. Additional water is diverted from the North Fork of the Stanislaus River by the North Fork Diversion Dam and a two-mile (3 km) tunnel. Downstream from the dam, the water continues flowing in Highland Creek until it meets the North Fork of the Stanislaus River.

Calaveras County Water District owns the dam. Water from the reservoir supplies drinking water and water for recreationand irrigation. Also, along with the Northern California Power Agency, the water district sells electricity from the 5.5-MWhydroelectric plant at the base of the dam. They also operate the 253-MW Collierville Powerhouse on the North Fork of the Stanislaus River.

It’s about twenty minutes off the highway.  A beautiful drive!  This is a photo from our last visit, June 2013.  Ah.  Love it! (click on any photo for a larger version)


When we got there, I was shocked!  Where did all the water go?


This is spring, when everything should be full.  But, we are suffering from a drought.  Not enough rain and pretty much no snow pack to speak of.  There will be little/no snow run off this spring/summer.  Bummer.  And, scary.   Praying for rain and a very snowy, wet winter to set things right again.


Here is the boat dock, then and now.  What a huge difference!!


I was looking forward to walking out on the boat dock again, just like I did only two years ago.


Instead, we got to see the bottom of the lake!  Rocks, trees….and a loud LOUD sound of rushing water.


Here is the source!  This would be underwater in a non drought year.  It was fun to climb over the rocks and enjoy the waterfall.  I took about a thousand photos of this.


Of course, I had to play with slow exposure.  I love to make the water silky!





It’s going to be a hot, dry summer.  We will be looking for opportunity wherever we can find it!  When this reservoir fills back up, this lovely waterfall will only exist in photos.  And, a little video:





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