Lake Oroville water levels

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A snake-like trickle of water flows underneath Lake Oroville's Enterprise Bridge — just one striking example of how much California's chronic drought is affecting the state's lakes and reservoirs.

Situated at the foot of the Sierra Nevadas in Butte County, Lake Oroville is one of the largest reservoirs in California, second only to Shasta Lake. After enduring three straight years of drought, the lake is currently only filled to 32 percent of its capacity.

Water conservation continues to be a major concern for Californians, especially in the wake of the recently viral (and controversial) Ice Bucket Challenge. Of course, pouring a small bucket of ice water on yourself is the least of the world's worries when you consider the many examples of needless water waste that occur every day — dripping kitchen faucets, washing cars, watering grass lawns and ridiculously long showers, just to name a few.

In any case, the drought in California is getting serious. Phase 2 of Los Angeles' mandatory water conservation ordinance is now in effect, which means a team of water-use inspectors are tasked with enforcing water restrictions and fining water wasters. If the drought continues through fall and winter, the ordinance will move to Phase 3, which entails even stricter rules and some prohibitions.

To get a better idea of the dire situation in the Golden State, continue below for a photo comparison of water levels taken in 2011 and 2014, looking at Lake Oroville and Folsom Lake, another major California reservoir located in Sacramento County that is now filled at 40 percent of its capacity.

Lake Oroville water levels affect boats

Photos: Paul Hames/California Department of Water Resources (left); Justin Sullivan/Getty Images (right)

Bidwell Marina, Lake Oroville

 
Lake Oroville water levels and bridge

Photos: Paul Hames/California Department of Water Resources (left); Justin Sullivan/Getty Images (right)

Enterprise Bridge, Lake Oroville

Lake Oroville water levels and dam

Photos: Paul Hames/California Department of Water Resources (left); Justin Sullivan/Getty Images (right)

Folsam Dam, Folsom Lake

 
Lake Oroville water levels affect Lake Oroville

Photo: Paul Hames/California Department of Water Resources (left); Justin Sullivan/Getty Images (right)

Bidwell Marina, Lake Oroville

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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.