Leveling up: Lake Lagunita water level reaches new heights

Jan. 17, 2023, 12:15 a.m.

After another week of storms soaked Stanford’s campus, the water in the man-made Lake Lagunita has continued to rise. 

On Monday afternoon, the water level measured 14 feet, according to a measuring post in the lake. That level marks an increase of six feet from the level recorded on Jan. 8 by The Daily. 

The difference is visible: Over the past week, Lagunita’s shoreline has crept ever closer to the plastic fence enclosing the restricted area.

Students are still using the lake for recreation, continuing a campus pastime that began after students returned to campus from winter break to find the lake full of water. (The forbidden waters were the talk of the town.)

Despite multiple signs warning students to stay out of the water, the lake has now played host to inflatable rafts, bike jumping competitions and dining hall banners, according to several posts on the anonymous app Fizz. 

A handful of students can be seen wandering around the lake’s path at all hours, umbrellas in hand, taking in the shining waters and dodging the dirt path’s intermittent streams and muddy puddles. 

The rise in the lake’s level follows persistent rain that has blanketed campus. Stanford has seen consistent rain for the past several weeks as a series of severe storms has been battering the California coast. Heavy rains have caused floods, evacuations and at least 19 deaths across the state since the storms began in the last week of December. 

As the rain eases up in the coming days, the lake’s future remains to be seen, though the upcoming weather means the lake’s height may have peaked. The forecast predicts a dry Tuesday followed by a final day of rain on Wednesday.

Naturally, Lagunita’s porous lakebed causes the lake to lose 500 gallons of water per hour, leading to rapid drainage once rains cease. However, there is precedent for the University manually filling the lake. The Stanford Habitat Conservation Plan states that “Stanford will operate its water systems to maintain a depth of 3 to 5 feet” to allow for the continued metamorphosis of the lake’s endangered California tiger salamanders between February and May.

Cameron Duran '24 writes for the Arts & Life section. Contact The Daily’s Arts & Life section at arts ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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