FOLSOM, Calif. (KTXL) — Folsom Lake is 85% full, and it is once again a welcoming place for boaters and swimmers.

It’s a dramatic turnaround from last July when boat docks were unusable.

“It hasn’t been like this for a couple of years,” Cynthia Kelly said.

“Yeah, last year we couldn’t even get the boat in the marina because it was so low,” Roark Kelly told FOX40.

Boaters like Cynthia and Roark Kelly are thrilled to be back on the water.

“Considering that we were told in, I think, March that we had to have the boat off the lake in May, and now we hopefully are going to get an extension, yeah it’s awesome,” Cynthia Kelly said.

The Brown’s Ravine boat docks are once again usable for boats.

“Unbelievable. I mean, we didn’t expect this for sure, with the snowpack the way it is right now. Never would have thought that it would be this high for this time of the year,” Roark Kelly said.

Last year the speed limit out on the lake was 5 miles per hour. This year, boaters are free to feel the speed.

“We’re more than double the storage that we had this day last year,” Drew Lessard said.

Lessard is an area manager for the Bureau of Reclamation, the agency that operates Folsom Dam.

“Things were looking pretty bleak on the American River and for Folsom up until April when we ended up having an above-average precipitation month,” said Lassard.

Lessard explains the impressive lake level is largely the result of gradual snowmelt from the cold April storms. Those storms were well-positioned to benefit the American River watershed that flows into the lake.

And being a comparatively small reservoir, holding 1 million acre-feet of water, Folsom fills up quickly. 

“So, it’s a really dependable watershed, so we’re pretty lucky,” Lessard said.

But many other Northern California reservoirs are not so lucky.

“We’re part of the Central Valley Project. So you have New Melones, you have Shasta, you have Trinity, a lot of other storage facilities that don’t have that much water,” Lessard said.

Shasta Lake typically supplies a lot of the water needs in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Lessard said Folsom will have to help make up for what Shasta can’t supply. He would like people to keep that in mind when they see the water level fall in the months ahead.

“Folsom, although it looks good right now, it’s part of a bigger project that’s not doing so well,” Lessard said. “And we’re not going to see water elevations this high throughout the summer. They’re going to drop pretty quick when we have to support our other project needs.”

That reality also highlights the importance of water conservation

“Anything that we can hold back in any of the reservoirs that we can is a good thing for next year,” Lessard explained.

For now, boaters like Cynthia and Roark Kelly will enjoy every drop of lake water under their boat.

“We’re happy — great time,” Roark said.