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Massive rainfall doesn’t stop drought but fills up empty lakes

A full lake ilsanjo shortly after the rainfall (Photo: Shane Karres )

by Jon Donohue, assistant editor

Lake Ilsanjo and Spring Lake water levels hit a dismal low over the summer. Ilsanjo had already been low due to intentional dam repairs in 2019, but Spring Lake did not get to its startling low point until recently. The lower levels had turned the once beautiful lakes into a reminder of the drought. 

The tide turned, though, on Oct. 24 when an astonishing 7.21 inches of rain fell on Santa Rosa. Spring Lake filled up entirely and reached high levels on Sunday, and Lake Ilsanjo reached relatively normal levels. The water overflowed out of Spring Lake into the swimming lagoon, roughly 100 yards on the south side to the dam, and roughly 100 yards up to the boat dock on the west side of the lake. Illsanjo did not overflow, but the levels rose significantly. There are parts on the north side of the lake that were mostly empty, and now they are full. 

A flooded Spring Lake on Monday, October 25th (Photo: Courtesy of Shane Karres)

Sean Gubera, a Maria Carrillo High School junior, runs and mountain bikes in Annadel and around Spring Lake almost every day of the week. He has been going to Lake Ilsanjo for years. About his first time, he said, “I think I was in the fourth grade. My dad had always been talking about getting up to the top, which was Lake Ilsanjo at the time. If you got to the top, you made it to the lake, and when we finally got there, it was a big accomplishment for me.” Prior to the rainfall, it was hard for Gubera and other people who are frequently in the park to see the lake so empty. “It looked completely different,” said Gubera. “When I first saw it it was full, it was happier. [Lately] it felt like the whole place was a little depressed.” 

The low levels were not only making the lake look unattractive, but it also impacted triathlon training. Shane Karres, a teacher at Village Elementary School, has been mountain biking and running in Annadel and Spring Lake for roughly 34 years. “A lot of people would run up and swim and do some biathlon type training. I have done them myself. And for that aspect it stinks.” 

Canyon Trailhead on a bright sunny day after the crazy day of rain (Photo: Courtesy of Shane Karres)

However, now that the levels have been restored, people could start to enjoy Annadel more, and hopefully the lake is good to swim in again as well. “Seeing the lake full again and hearing all the creeks flowing is wonderful. Before, it was just a sad reminder of the drought. I went on a run there again today and it was nice, really nice, to run around the lake. I grew up with the lake as a fixture of the park, and its absence was felt,” said Karres. 

“It was a proper view.”

While the drought will likely continue on, the rainfall is definitely a good sign for the future. “It is exciting that we could potentially have more rain in the future and put an end to the drought,” Gubera said. We hadn’t had that much rain in such a long time, Gubera even forgot that it was even possible to get that much rain again.

Karres added, “Sure, the heavy rainfall caused a bit of damage, but that is fine. We need the rain.”
At first glance of Ilsanjo this weekend, Karres said it better than anyone else: “It was a proper view.” 

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