Among the many communities significantly affected by California's six-year drought is Lake Elsinore. But thanks to recent rains, this small Riverside County community is no longer considered in "severe drought."

William Johnson, owner of "William's Bait and Tackle," boat rental business, said he has not been operating boat rentals since last summer.

"I was at the point to where I was really going to shut the business down completely" he said. "People come here for the lake. If you don't have water in a lake, there's not much else to draw people to it," he added while chuckling.

Rex Buxton, a local camper and fisherman said he used to enjoy spending weekends at the lake, but recently opted not to because the water levels were too low.

"It was getting dangerously low and almost unusable," he said.

In fact, the lake was so low last summer, that toxic algae floated to the surface – a phenomenon that takes place when lake water levels are extremely low. The lake had to be closed down for an entire week as a result.

"If the lake dries up, then it's going to have a significant impact on all of the services and business around the lake," said Kim Cousins, president and CEO of the Lake Elsinore Valley Chamber of Commerce. But if the lake runs out of water, the impact could affect more than just the local economy.

"It's going to have an ecological impact," Cousins added, pointing out the fish species in the lake would disappear. Additionally, the nearly 200 birds who call home the bird sanctuary located directly adjacent to the lake "…would have to migrate to a new location," he said.

But for the time being, it seems the recent storms have all but guaranteed such a dry-spell will not occur in the near future. In fact, the lake's water levels have increased more than three feet in recent months.


Mayor Bob Magee said he remains hopeful for a better future in Lake Elsinore.

"The drought is over," Magee said with a big smile on his face. "This year they told us to get ready for La Niña. We weren't supposed to have any rain. We've had back-to-back-to-back-to-back [rain]. The drought's over. We're good to go."

But according to the US drought monitor, the region remains in "moderate drought." Despite this, residents say they are optimistic about what's next for the lake community.

"I love [the rain] because it means more money for me," Buxton said.

Johnson shared a similar sentiment. "It has saved my business with the influx of this rain," he said. "With the rain, thank the Lord. I look forward to 'William's Bait and Tackle' boat rental being open for at least a few more years."