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LBNews Pg 8&1 Jul19


Independence Day: Will the Bureau of Reclamation Ever Support Lake Berryessa's Freedom?

by Peter Kilkus 

Besides enjoying the holiday spirit and activities of the Fourth of July, it is instructive to reflect on the meaning of freedom and independence. The essence of America is finding and maintaining that perfect, delicate balance between freedom "to" and freedom "from."

Based on its words and actions, or lack thereof, the Bureau of Reclamation should more properly be known as the Burro of Wrecklamation. Not only has it physically wrecked what Lake Berryessa once was, it has wrecked the opportunities of a couple of generations of families to enjoy this resource. And during the last two decades, it has wrecked local businesses and what once was a thriving economy.

Although the old "stubborn as a mule" cliche is not really accurate, Wrecklamation's stubborn adherence to failed policies and a refusal to take action to  remedy what is clearly their mismanagement. of the Lake Berryessa situation makes them their own cliche.

The scientific name for a burro is "Equus Africanas Asinus". "Asinus" in the burro's scientific name, suggests  a certain assiness to the burro, which hints at a further truth when applied here. See more about burros on the back page of this issue.

Not to overdramatize our situation at the lake, but take a minute to read the introduction to our Declaration of Independence below. I can't help but relate the language to the way our Burro of Wrecklamation interacts witht he people of Lake Berryessa and Napa County.

It's been six weeks since the review of the negotiations between Napa County and the BOR regarding a Managing Partner Agreement for Napa County run the resorts - with no further progress. Clearly Reclamation has no incentive to accelerate this process. They simply complain about funding, hold the 55 year contract term hostage, and ask for a fully developed plan from the county before they will commit to any action.

I refer your to my August 2018 article, "Beating A Dead Horse With A Stick OR Beating A Horse With A Dead Stick? BOR Betrays Berryessa - AGAIN!" Nothing has changed!

I've encouraged you all to write letters. I hope many of you did. I wrote several letters to BOR management and even two to President Trump. No Response.

So enjoy your thoughtful reading of the beginning of the Declaration of Independence below and perhaps we'll see each other at the upcoming Big Island Lagoon Liberation Celebration.

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

--We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

--That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

See You At The Big Island Lagoon Liberation Celebration?

There has been no response from anyone at the Bureau of Reclamation  regarding my report, "Immediately Return Lake Berryessa’s Big Island Lagoon And Steele Canyon Cove To 5mph Zones For Family Recreation." My position is that the report proves there is no such legitimate designation as "non-motorized, electric trolling motors only". There is also no applicable Napa County ordinance that supports the sheriff giving tickets to anyone idling at 5 MPH in this designated 5 MPH zone. I will be boating to and through Big Island Lagoon every time I go out on the lake, as I've done twice this year already.

Burro: Equus Africanas Asinus

"Asinus" in the burro's scientific name, suggesting a certain assiness to the burro, which hints at a further truth. "Burro" is just the Spanish word for "donkey." Some people make a distinction between the descendants of donkeys introduced into the Americas by the Spanish in the 1500s, which they call burros, and donkeys introduced from Europe in modern times, which they call donkeys.

Even people making a distinction between burros and donkeys appear to agree that both, being of the species "asinus," are asses. Jackasses are just "jack asses," or "male asses."Asses were first domesticated around 3000 BC, probably in Egypt or Mesopotamia and have spread around the world. They continue to fill important roles in many places today. While domesticated species are increasing in numbers, the African wild ass is an endangered species. As beasts of burden and companions, asses and donkeys have worked together with humans for millennia.


Little Burro Events

This is an actual business in Petaluma. Imagine a party with the little burros dressed as you favorite Burro of Wrecklamation manager! A litle love goes a long way.

"We are Northern California's premier beverage serving mini-donkey company and we would be honored to be part of your special occasion. We can customize any event to make it extra special. With the docile nature of the miniature donkeys and their adorable personalities, you will see how quickly they make a good event a memorable & special event that everyone will talk about for years to come.

Dressed to impress, these little burros are certain to touch the hearts of many. Our little burros are miniature donkeys that are between 26 - 34" in height."


Flowers & Fire at Lake Berryessa

by Peter Kilkus (May 19, 2005)

(This is a reprint from many years ago but still relevant today.)

I was talking to Brad Kirkpatrick up in Pope Valley awhile ago about the fascinating history and politics of the Lake Berryessa region. We wandered onto the topic of the beautiful crop of wildflowers sprouting after the rain. Hiking around the lake is even more enjoyable when the view is framed by so many colorful flowers. 

Since Brad was also once the Chief of the Pope Valley Volunteer Fire Department, I asked him about something that has been bothering me for the forty years since I came to Northern California.

Whenever there is an especially wet year, the fire professionals warn that it will be a “bad fire season”. But every year that rainfall is low, the same fire professionals warn that it will be a “bad fire season”. Are they just trying to scare us every year? Is it just news media sensationalism as usual?

Brad laughed at the question, but seemed to believe that although a wet season can be bad, a dry season could have the greater potential to be “badder”. The real difference is in the type of “bad”. 

I stopped at the CDF fire station on Knoxville Road on the way home to see what they thought about my confusion. The professional firefighters on duty gave me a rundown on the technical issues. 

First, there is no “good” fire season. The difference in “bad” is based on the type of fire which can be caused by the different fuel loads. A wet season causes heavy growth of flowers, small plants, and grasses. 

When these dry out they can feed a very aggressive hot fire that is hard to attack. The larger fuel such as trees contain a lot of moisture after a long wet season and will not burn early.

Professional fire fighters judge fuel loads by the time it takes them to dry out. One hour and 10 hour fuels like grasses dry fast. Even if they were wet in the morning – they’re dry an hour later in the sun. The 1,000 hour fuels like big trees can take 42 days to dry out.

That’s why you may have huge late season fires like the Oakland – the big fuel loads have finally dried out.

So which is worse? Dry seasons can have fires that start early in the year (February-March) and can still happen until late in the year. Wet season fires don’t start until later in the fire season (June-July) but can be fast and furious and be even larger later in the year (September-October).

Wet year or dry year, Napa County Firewise Specialists with the Napa County say,

“People should be prepared for the worst ever fire season because every fire season has the potential for being the worst ever. Property owners need to take the initiative to do the work to create defensible spaces around their homes because even minor prevention preparation can make a major difference in survival.”

There is another dimension which is that fire weather during the season was more important than how a season may start. Long stretches of hot weather with high winds multiplies the problems. Also, when firefighting resources are stretched thin across the state, any fire can be hard to eliminate.

So enjoy the flowers while you can. Flowers burn too – some are even worse than grasses because of their oil content. I also learned that vineyards burn – they may look a bit like firebreaks, but they’re not. And they make attacking a fire more difficult because of the stakes and guy wires uses to support the vines. Many thanks to our dedicated fire fighters – those suits are not air conditioned!

Fourteen Years Later: Same Old Song, But With A Different Beat Since PG&E Willl Be Gone!

A rainy winter produced an abundance of grass and brush that could go off like kindling if ignited by a spark or a downed power line. Preventative outages by PG&E could leave thousands of Napa Valley residents without power for days.

If you still haven’t prepared yourself and your family for an emergency, now is the time.

The county government is ready with lines of communication to PG&E, local Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), the free chipping program. Cameras have been placed on Mount St. Helena, Atlas Peak and Berryessa Peak to help emergency responders and residents track fires (go to

Supervisor Diane Dillon and other regional officials successfully persuaded the California Public Utilities Commission to hold PG&E responsible for notifying county public safety and health departments 72 hours before a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS). The county, in turn, will activate its contingency plans and warn the public to be ready.

For each outage, PG&E has to provide the county’s Office of Emergency Services with maps of which areas will be without power. The County emergency team can cross-reference those with their own maps showing homes and residential care facilities where people rely on electricity for medical care – from those on critical life support to those who rely on rechargeable carts to move around. But residents still have the primary responsibility to look after themselves and their neighbors.

The next time there’s a red flag warning, keep an eye out for Nixle alerts. Stay abreast of weather forecasts. Get your go-bag ready in case you need to evacuate. Make sure your neighbors are ready, especially the most vulnerable ones. Store up fresh water for your family and your pets. Keep your flashlights and batteries handy. Get a full tank of gas in case the gas stations lose power.

A PSPS won’t count as an “emergency” in the eyes of the federal government, so don’t expect the Federal Emergency Management Agency to bring any resources to bear. But an extended outage will feel like an emergency for those of us affected. And the more unprepared we are, the harder it will be.

Napa County may or may not suffer a major wildfire this summer. But a power outage is a matter of when, not if. Get ready.


How High Is Glory Hole (and Lake Berryessa)?

Photographic and video evidence may show the lake spilling over the rim of Glory Hole. However, the official measurement provided by the Solano County Water Agency at that exact moment is 439.9 feet - low by 1 inch.

The rim of the structure is very flat - as can be seen from the photos and videos showing lake water spilling over at exactly the same height all around its circumference. Those of us who have ever used a bubble level to simply hang a picture frame should be immensely impressed by the this feat of engineering from 1956.

The Lake Berryessa water level is actually measured on the Monticello Dam in a “stilling well” equipped with a float tape attached to a digital rotary encoder that measures precisely to 0.01 foot or 0.12 inch. There is a small discrepancy with the encoder that measures the lake level. It is also difficult to get the measured lake level dialed in to this exact level when there are any wind waves that cause small fluctuations in the stilling well.

The lake elevation is calibrated by measuring the distance from a known elevation to the water surface in the stilling well. This known elevation was determined during the original survey of the Berryessa Valley when the dam was built. The fact that the calibration between the measuring device and the actual lake level is only off by only .04 feet (1/2 inch) is amazing. But how accurate is that measurement and how important is it? 

Precision and accuracy are often used interchangeably, but in science they have very different meanings. Measurements that are close to the known value are said to be accurate, whereas measurements that are close to each other are said to be precise. So a good machine may measure precisely to a half inch every time it takes a lake level reading, but if the calibration point is off in accuracy by one foot, what does it matter? The ideal situation is when the measurement is both accurate and precise. But the accuracy of any measurement relies on how the measurement is made - and all measurements have some variability. 

Variability is the tendency of the measurement process to produce slightly different measurements on the same test item, where conditions of measurement are either stable or vary over time, temperature, operators, etc. 

Short-term variability due to to the precision of the measuring device. Since most of the survey measurements on which Lake Berryessa data depends were performed in the 1950s with good optical equipment but in rough, irregular terrain, how variable in accuracy was the final data set - what was the level of the statistical standard deviations of the fundamental measurement results?

Mean Sea Level: Is There Such A Thing As Accurate Height?

Mean sea level (msl) is an average level of the surface of one of Earth's oceans from which heights such as lake and mountain elevations may be measured. Height above mean sea level is the elevation (on the ground) or altitude (in the air) of an object, relative to the average sea level datum. For at least the last 100 years, sea level has been rising at an average rate of about 1.8 mm (0.07 in) per year - 4.2 inches since Monticello Dam was  completed.

At present, the maximum cumulative uncertainty for operational Vertical Datum regions in San Francisco Bay Area, which includes Lake Berryessa, is 4 inches. So what does a measurement of 439.96 feet mean in that context? We can precisely measure the lake level to 439.96 feet within a tenth of an inch, BUT we only know the accuracy of that measurement to plus or minus 2 inches!

There are several methods of measuring the height of a point above msl. The choice depends on the accuracy required and the equipment available. Satellite altimeters have been making precise measurements of sea level since the launch of the TOPEX/Poseidon satellite in 1992. But there were no satellites in 1955 when the dam was being built. Surveyors used precise optical instruments to do the job.

A surveying instrument known as an optical level is used to project a horizontal line in two directions (forwards and backwards) so that differences in height can be measured.  At each end of the line being measured the value is noted where this horizontal line intersects a vertical staff (basically just a big ruler). 

This is the equipment you see when you drive by surveyors planning a new road. The difference between the values at each end of the line is the difference in height.

Provided the line of sight is kept relatively short (usually less than 150 feet) the measurements are quite accurate. By repeating this process in a leap-frog manner and adding up all the differences in height, the total difference between two very distant points can be calculated.

Over long distances this is a tedious technique, but it produces accurate results.  It depends on the instrument used and the care taken, but for the typical standard of optical leveling the accuracy is about 1 inch over 6 miles, or 3 inches over 62 miles.

Since Lake Berryessa is approximately 15.5 miles long and 3 miles wide with approximately 165 miles of shoreline, surveying the whole area was a major design task. But who cares how high above mean sea level the lake actually is? Basically no one.

Lake Berryessa is a reservoir providing agricultural irrigation water and drinking water to Solano County (recreation was not a goal). So the important measurement is the volume of the lake at any given time - not its absolute height above sea level. 

And the volume of a lake is measured by knowing the relative heights of the valley in which it sits. Lake Berryessa could be a hundred feet higher than it is and it would not matter - because the important measurement is its volume. 

The surface area of the lake is about 20,700 acres (plus or minus what?). If the height of the lake level is off by 2 inches that’s an uncertainty of about plus or minus 3.5 acre-feet - or about .02% - a very small number.  On the other hand, an average California household uses between one-half and one acre-foot of water per year for indoor and outdoor use. From that perspective it may seem like a lot..

How Much Water Does Lake Berryessa Hold?

Heights are usually shown on maps by contour lines which give the height above msl. The volume of water is a function of the difference in depth between two successive depth contours where the area of the lake within the outer depth contour is compared to the area of the lake within the inner contour line under consideration. 

The procedure consists of determining the volumes of successive layers of water, and then summing these volumes to obtain the total volume of the lake. Making these calculations over an area the size and shape of the Berryessa Valley before the dam was built clearly includes a lot of uncertainty in the final volume determination.

The relationship between the lake level and its storage capacity is not linear. The lake is shaped roughly like a bowl (with peaks and valleys and inlets and large flat areas), which means that the higher the water level gets the more rain is needed to raise it.

The published data defines the surface area of Lake Berryessa when it is at a lake level of 440’ msl (the Glory Hole spillway height) as 20,700 acres with a total volume of 1,602,000 acre feet.

However, the world-wide attention focused on Lake Berryessa’s Glory Hole Spillway overflowing in 2017 for the first time in a decade raised some questions from sharp-eyed observers. Using the published standard capacity of 1,602,000 acre-feet (AF), they noticed that as the level approached the 440 foot mark (100%), the capacity was less than that figure. In fact, at 440 feet (100%) the official storage value was only 96.2% of capacity - a 3.2% off.

 1,602,000 AF is a number that was derived from the original Area-Capacity curve developed from surveys of the empty lake bed when the project was being built. In 2007 the Solano County Water Agency (SCWA) performed a comprehensive bathymetric survey of Lake Berryessa to look at sediment accumulation over the last 50 years of the project. Another goal was to verify the accuracy of the Area-Capacity curve. 

In the Spring of 2007 the Solano County Water Agency performed a survey of the underwater landscape of Lake Berryessa. They wanted to accurately determine the capacity of the lake using the latest technology. Siltation from a lake’s shoreline is often a factor in lowering the total water-carrying capacity of reservoirs. SCWA wanted to investigate the sedimentation rate and establish a baseline as well as create accurate bathymetric maps.

The data used to make bathymetric maps today typically comes from an echosounder (sonar) mounted beneath or over the side of a boat, "pinging" a beam of sound downward at the lake bottom. The amount of time it takes for the sound or light to travel through the water, bounce off the lake bottom, and return to the sounder tells the equipment the depth.

The sedimentation in the lake was determined to be minimal considering the 50 year life of the project. The scuba divers who went down to the old Putah Creek Stone Bridge found only a few inches of fine silt on the bridge surface.

A new lake level versus capacity was officially adopted by Reclamation and SCWA in 2009. The new curve shows a lake capacity of 1,551,292 AF at a level of 440 feet - 50,708 AF less than previously.

The difference between the present and former AC curves is a combination of some sedimentation and the difference in technology used to derive the new curve. Obviously another traditional survey of the dry lake bed will not be possible. The bathymetric survey was the only option that could be used to provide a data that could be used in future studies.

The new AC curve has been officially accepted by Reclamation, but the old 1,602,000 AF is still used by most agencies. That figure remains in public descriptions of lake capacity and is proving to be very hard to change since it’s been used for so long.

The Glory Hole Is A Circular Waterfall

Glory Hole circular waterfall copy

A review of photos and videos shows that laminar (smooth) flow over the lip of Glory Hole and down the spillway is the same as the flow over a waterfall.


Fishing with Sid at Lake Berryessa - 6/22/19

 This past Saturday I took Jessica and Andrew out for the day. As we headed out of Steele Park the wind seemed to pick up and we saw we were heading into good size white caps. I had planned to go to the Narrows first but the large waves prevented me from doing so. I headed west towards the Big Island and was able to cross over to the Ranch house cove where the water was calm and we were able to fish. 

I decided that worming would be the most productive method and it rewarded us with a nice 3 1/2 pound largemouth bass brought in by Jessica.  I wanted to take them to the vineyards so we headed in that direction fighting the waves and trolling the shoreline. They had a few hits and hooked a few fish but the rough water worked against us and managed to knock the fish of the hook.

It was a rough ride to the vineyards but we made it only to encounter the same conditions and the same problems.  We tried worming but the wind and the waves pushed the boat too fast. We started heading back towards Steele Park which was a lot easier because we were working with waves and not against them. 

Andrew hooked a nice bass along the way (see photo). As we neared Steele Park I decided to go into what used to be Willie’s Ski School and the water was calm and there was a nice breeze and we ended the day there. With all the difficulties they told me it had been a great day and they would definitely do it again.

‘Til next time.............................................good fishing!!!!! If you have any questions or stories you would like to share or are interested in booking a guided fishing trip please email me at or call me at 650-583-3333.

fish good


Lake Berryessa water level is slowly dropping while water temperature is slowly rising. Level is 1.2 feet below Glory Hole. Water temperature is approaching 80 degrees.

Glory Hole 062219
Water temperature 061819


Pasote Tequila & Berryessa Bass Tournament Results for Sunday, 6/9/19    

Thanks to the 20 Teams that fished the 9th event of the Pasote Tequila & Berryessa Bass Tournaments Circuit that was out of Capell Cove. We had a breezy and cool Blast Off. Everyone was in shorts and freezing! Turtle Rock was 47 degrees at check-in! Bite has been tough lately, but all teams got limits.

 Most teams reported catching their fish in 5 – 25 feet of water. Water temps are up into the mid 70’s to 80’s range with the water clarity still the same with slightly murky tan/green in areas and crystal clear in other areas. Teams reported catching their fish on Top Water, Jigs, Drop Shot, and Reaction Baits. Most teams covered a lot of water and were fishing all over the lake.

First Place went to Adam  Cartwright and Mike Ammenwerth with a sack that weighed 19.85lbs and was anchored with a 5.98lb Kicker for 2nd Place Big Fish! Second Place went to Joe Mariani and Mark Mariani who brought in a sack that weighed 19.59lbs. Third Place went to Steve Alvarado and Mark Peters with a sack that weighed 17.37lbs. With a Fourth Place finish, John Maes and Ryan White weighed in a sack for 16.79lbs and was anchored by a 6.55lb kicker for 1st Place Big Fish. In Fifth Place, Brett Nielson and Mark Eldridge came in with a sack weighing 14.72lbs. In Sixth Place & First out of the Money with a $100 River2Sea Certificate was Gary Okusako and Dave Symmons with 13.07lbs.

Next tournament, The TOC Sunday 9/22/19! Also on Sunday 9/22/19 we will be drawing for 50/50 Raffle! TOC Invtes will be going out soon. Thanks to all the teams for supporting the 2018-2019 Pasote Tequila & Berryessa Bass Tournaments Circuit!

Thanks to our Sponsor’s: Pasote Tequila, P-Line, Venom Energy Drinks, Ficelle’s Bistro, Tomat’s Restaurant, Kasoku Teriyaki & More, Koloa Bass/Zipline/ATV, Dobyns Rods, Battery Systems, Pisani’s Automotive, Trigger Grips,, Markley Cove, and CE Ranch, Todd’s Custom Rod Art, Hisui, A-Rig-Wrap, Round Table Pizza, Buckhorn Grill, Pro Cure, Bay Tackle, LEBCO, Berryessa Boat Repair, Waipouli Beach Resort, Hanalei Gourmet, and Gone Fishin Marine!

If you bring a currently dated receipt from Gone Fishin Marine or any other sponsor, I will give you free raffle tix! You can also get 10% off purchases if you’re a Berryessa Bass Tournament member! I will have membership cards for you at the next tournament if you didn’t receive one yet! Email or call if you have any questions - (530)794-6085 Thanks for the Support!!! Website should be updated shortly! 

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Sanderson June2019



MSC 2019



See full report here

Download PDF of full report here...

Buoy close circle text


Summer operating hours at Lake Berryessa

Dufer Point Visitor Center
Park rangers will staff the Dufer Point Visitor Center from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Staff will provide answers about visiting the lake, volunteering with our birding program and upcoming events.

Oak Shores Day Use Area
Oak Shores opens daily at 7:30 a.m. all year. In addition, Lake Berryessa employees will extend Oak Shore’s closing hours from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Reserve Oak Shores shade shelters for $25 at Reservations are not accepted on holiday weekends.

Smittle Creek and Eticuera Day Use Area
Smittle Creek and Eticuera are available for hiking, wildlife watching, picnicking and hand-launching watercraft from sunrise until sunset throughout the year. Park rangers will close the parking lot gates at Smittle Creek at 8 p.m., nightly.

Capell Cove Boat Launch
The Capell Cove Boat Launch opens from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. all year, weather permitting.

Concession Areas
Markley Cove Resort, Pleasure Cove Marina, Steele Canyon Recreation Area, Putah Canyon, and Spanish Flat offer a variety of recreation services, including boat launch ramps, and are great alternatives to Oak Shores and Capell Cove. For information regarding services offered at concession-operated facilities, please call or visit their websites:

Markley Cove- 707-966-2134,
Pleasure Cove Marina- 707-966-9600,
Steele Canyon Recreation Area- 707-966-9179,
Spanish Flat Recreation Area- 707-966-0200,
Putah Canyon Recreation Area- 707-966-9051,

For more information, call the Lake Berryessa Administration office at 707-966-2111, ext. 113 or visit the website at:    


Lake Berryessa Glory  Hole Spill Watch 2019



See my detailed report on how Lake Berryessa and Monticello Dam function at:


Special Release: New combined report for those who want to know almost everything about how Lake Berryessa works!

As Lake Berryessa Flows:

A Combination of Science, Engineering, and Natural Beauty

by Peter Kilkus

The Science and Engineering Elements of a Major Natural Resource

Download Full Report PDF Here...


Welcome to the best map of Lake Berryessa you’ll ever find!

Click on the map to see a larger version.

Click here to download a pdf copy.

1 Lake Map Base 082317


Lake Berryessa Fills and Glory Hole Spills: The Video History

This amazing series of Lake Berryessa News Drone videos by Evan Kilkus documents the 45 foot rise of Lake Berryessa in 2017.


Full lake level history 2015
Lake Levels 2006 to 031217 edited-1
Lake Levels 1990 2017



Berryessa Valley and the Town of Monticello Historical Photos and Videos from before Lake Berryessa covered it.

Berryessa Valley photo

Thanks to Carol Fitzpatrick for creating the Berryessa Valley Exhibit at the Spanish Flat Village Center described in the first video.



1958 - 2018

by Peter Kilkus


What Happened At Lake Berryessa? The Book! 

(Click to Download the PDF here)

Table Of Contents


Without THE LAKE BERRYESSA NEWS there would be no Lake Berryessa News…and finally there would be no definitive history of what happened at Lake Berryessa. Having participated directly for more than twenty years as an advocate for the lake in the fiasco that was the Bureau of Reclamation’s Visitor Services Plan, its farcical but tragic outcome, and the process of rebuilding, I have very strong views of the causes and results - supported by facts and data which were mostly obfuscated by the proponents of the destruction of the lake’s residential and business community.

The Bureau of Reclamation and their supporters destroyed family recreation at Lake Berryessa for a generation of families, children, and friends. Many people ask me about the history of the process that led to the present situation at Lake Berryessa. When I explain what happened most become incredulous and can't believe the government could have done something so stupid. "How could they have gotten away with that?" they exclaim.

The goal of this book is to provide the history and the context within which such an incredibly destructive course of action took place.

The initial timeline shows a condensed history of the process. The next section tells the story through the eyes of Lake Berryessa News articles. With the permission of the Napa Register, a parallel history is presented through contemporaneous editorials, articles, and letters to the editor from the Napa Register.

This book is not a traditional academic exercise in historical exposition. Academic historians define history as presenting facts without expressing any opinion or analysis of the events whereas memories are comprised of emotions that can have a great influence on the perception of an actual event. Critical historians live by the old saying of "there are two sides to every story and then there is the truth."

I’m more interested in the narrative approach to defining this history. Almost two decades have passed since this story began, and Lake Berryessa history has been created with every day of that twenty years.

This book is the raw, as-it-happened, unfiltered picture of what many of us lived through. It is organized chronologically; focused on a single coherent story; primarily descriptive but also analytical; primarily concerned with people but also the abstract circumstances in which they find themselves. To me a big part of the fascination with any history is trying to discover what was going on inside people's heads in the past, and what it was like to live in that past.

The future may finally looking brighter for Lake Berryessa or does it? History continues to unfold.

Peter Kilkus, Lake Beryessa, 2018


Here's an interview I did in 2010, three years after the interview below with Pat Monaghan and just after Pensus had been given the contract for 5 resorts. As we all know Pensus was subsequently kicked out in 2012.        

Here's a 2007 TV interview with Pat Monaghan, cofounder of Task Force 7 at Lake Berryessa, to give you some historical insight. Those of you who remember Pete Lucero will recognize his description of what we called "The Big Lie" - which turned into the "Epic Fail".

How It All Began: The Origins of the “Big Lie”

Lake Berryessa History Timeline: 1958 - 2018

Click here for PDF version

Lake Berryessa News (2010 - 2018): A VERY SLOW MOTION Disaster! 

Click here for PDF version


Some Interesting Past Stories

Lake Berryessa Glory Hole Swallows Senior Center Gambling Bus

Bird Goes Over the Glory Hole Waterfall Without A Barrel

Glory Hole: Awesome, Frightening, But Dangerous?

February 2019: 2nd Anniversary of Glory Hole Spilling

My First Fishing Trip on Lake Berryessa

Analysis of the Creation of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument - the Dumbest National Monument in the United States

Rattlesnakes: Friend or Enemy – or just a primal fear?


Special Publications (PDF)

As Lake Berryessa Flows:

The Science and Engineering Elements of a Major Natural Resource (Combined Reports)

Combined Report Title Page and Index


As Lake Berryessa Flows: 

A Combination of Science, Engineering, and Natural Beauty 

(Single Report)


As Lake Berryessa Turns!

Temperature and Fishing in a Warm, Monomictic Lake 

(Single Report)  


Seeing Underwater at Lake Berryessa 

(Single Report)


The History of the Creation of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument: The Ultimate Political Perversion of the Antiquities Act

By Peter Kilkus (6/20/17)

The Twisted Ten-Year Political Path From a Modest Nature Area Partnership to a Local Blue Ridge Berryessa National Conservation Area to a Large Disjointed Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Area to an Incoherent Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument.

Is it the “Dumbest National Monument in the United States”? An objective review of the process by which it was created and the final formal designation suggests the answer is YES. I personally support the creation of legitimate national monuments, but this is not that. Being part of the ten year political process that led to its creation convinced me that in many situations the Antiquities Act is being abused. The Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument is a perfect case study of this abuse. 

Read the full report here.


Conspiracy Theory Or Automatic Pilot: The Economic Roots Of Environmental Destruction        

By Peter F. Kilkus 

Download PDF of this report (2 MB)


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