VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. — Lake Casitas is home for Owen Peralta. He works the dock at the marina and each year he’s watched the water levels drop more and more.
It has gotten so bad he’s worried the lake, which serves as a reservoir supplying parts of Ventura with drinking water, could dry up.
“I remember coming here when I was a kid. I think I caught my first fish here,” Peralta said. “The way it’s looking, I don’t know how long it’ll be here.”
Peralta hopes his neighbors and visitors to this area heed the county’s warnings to conserve water.
The lake has dropped below 35% capacity and officials said it could dip below 30% by next year.
“The lake used to be just below the bait shop. It’s gone down a ton over the years,” Peralta said, pointing to an area multiple football fields away from the current boat dock.
The bait and boat rental shop is where we met Scott Sanford who works here seven days a week and dreads checking the water levels on the Casitas Municipal Water District website.
“It’s too frustrating for me to look at it on a daily basis right now because it’s too discouraging,” San ford said.
Sanford has been fishing here himself since the 70s and remembers a time when Lake Casitas was overflowing. Now it’s the lowest he said he’s ever seen.
“It’s sad and I remind myself we are in SoCal and over the decades this is becoming more the norm and the norm that I don’t like,” Sanford said.
The water district has been declaring a water shortage since 2012 and voted to keep a mandatory 30% cut in water use and outdoor watering restrictions.
Both Sanford and Peralta are trying to remain optimistic, but they know the situation is dire, putting a spotlight on the need for conservation.
“I hope we can recover from this,” Peralta said. “But it’ll take a lot of water to come back from something like this.”