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Western drought leaves lakes well below normal levels

Robert Galbraith / Reuters

A visitor walks near the receding waters at Folsom Lake, which is 17 percent of its capacity, in Folsom, Calif., Jan 22.

California Governor Jerry Brown last week declared a drought emergency, and the dry year of 2013 has left fresh water reservoirs with a fraction of their normal reserves, making it likely that California lawmakers will seek to halt the restoration of the San Joaquin River through 2015. 

Two other parts of the proposed bill would allow farmers to pump irrigation water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and to form a joint House-Senate committee to tackle long-term water woes. 

Robert Galbraith / Reuters

Visitors look over the foundation of a structure from the Gold Rush-era town of Mormon Island, uncovered by receding waters at Folsom Lake, in Folsom, Calif., Jan. 22.

Robert Galbraith / Reuters

Visitors take photographs at the bottom of Folsom Lake, which is 17 percent of its capacity, in Folsom, Calif., Jan. 22.

Robert Galbraith / Reuters

Empty boat docks are shown at Holiday Harbor in Shasta Lake, which is 100 feet (30 meters) below its normal levels, in Shasta, Calif., Jan. 23.

National Park Service / AP

It's not just California that's suffering drought. This 2013 photo provided by the National Park Service shows digging operations at Lake Powell in Arizona. Lake Powell has reached its lowest level since 2005. The National Park Service is capitalizing on the low water as a prime time to resume its digging work at the Castle Rock Cut, a popular shortcut for boaters.