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Penstock intakes for the Hyatt Powerplant at Lake Oroville during a drought in Oroville, California, on July 15. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A largescale California hydropower plant was shut down on Thursday after ongoing drought conditions reduced water levels in Lake Oroville to historic lows, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Why it matters: It is the first time the Edward Hyatt hydroelectric power plant has ceased operations since it was constructed in 1967, at a time when California is warning about the potential for rolling blackouts.

  • The plant feeds from a reservoir at Lake Oroville in Butte County, the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas in Northern California, and has the capacity to power almost half a million households, according to the Bee.
  • But the lake is less than one-quarter full — surpassing its record lowest level set in 1977 — amid the state's ongoing water crisis.

What they're saying: “This is just one of many unprecedented impacts we are experiencing in California as a result of our climate-induced drought,” said Karla Nemeth, director of the California Department of Water Resources, in a statement.

  • "DWR anticipated this moment, and the state has planned for its loss in both water and grid management," the statement adds.
  • “Falling reservoir levels are another example of why it is so critical that all Californians conserve water. We are calling on everyone to take action now to reduce water use by 15 percent, to preserve as much water supply in storage as possible should we experience another dry year. We are all in this together.”

The big picture: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has asked households this summer to voluntarily reduce water usage.

  • He also declared a regional drought state of emergency in 50 of the state's 58 counties, where more than 40% of Californians live.
  • These conditions have significantly affected power generation, Axios' Ben Geman has reported.

Go deeper

Oct 21, 2021 - Health

Michigan city declares state of emergency due to lead-contaminated water

Volunteers distribute bottled water to residents in Benton Harbor, Michigan, on Oct. 19. Photo: Matthew Hatcher/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Officials in Benton Harbor, Michigan, announced a state of emergency earlier this week in an ongoing effort to replace the city's lead pipes, CNN reports.

Driving the news: The state of emergency, enacted by the City Commission on Monday, was intended to trigger a full-government approach to replace several lead pipes that have contaminated the city's water supply.

What's happening with Chicago's lead line removal

This small section of lead pipe was once part of a longer service line that connected a home to a water main. Chicago still has about 400,000 lead pipes in the ground. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Last week Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pledged to remove all the lead service lines in the city of Benton Harbor, Mich., over the next 18 months.

Why it matters locally: Chicago has more toxic lead lines that connect homes to the water main than any other U.S. city.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

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