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Low water levels at Lopez Lake force changes in water measurement system

On Wednesday, the San Luis Obispo County Public Works Department alongside an outside contractor began work on fixing their water level measurement system that’s currently above water.

Last year the county had to lower this same bubbler device but lake levels still weren’t as bad as they are now.

“We didn’t hire a scuba diver at that time so we just kinda waded in the water and got it down as low as we could, expecting that the rainfall coming that season would bring the lake level up and it didn’t get quite as high as we had hoped,” explains Courtney Howard, Water Resources Division Manager for SLO County Public Works.

The bubbler system can determine the lake levels by using a mathematical formula that combines the lake levels and pressurized air. “Pressurized air goes down and there’s a mathematical relationship to the amount of pressure it takes and the level of the lake and so doing that mathematical conversion, then we know what the level in the lake is,” Howard says.

These levels then get posted on their website in real time.

By feeding through about 40 extra feet of conduit piping down to the scuba divers below, the team was able to work tirelessly in order to prepare the lake’s bubbler system for the worst.

“Hopefully we’ll have a wet winter and the reservoir can recover but we also want to be prepared for the opposite, historically the last couple of years it hasn’t gone up as high so it’s lower than it was the year before,” says Howard.

The county expects that their measurements will be back online for viewing either Wednesday night or Thursday.

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