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Central Coast water sources holding steady after recent rain

SM Rain
Rainfall accumulates on soccer fields across from the Minami Park Wednesday morning. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- Rain has been a welcome sight on the Central Coast this week.

Precipitation has fallen across Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties the last two days, including over the past weekend.

It's a big change from what has been a relatively dry winter.

Even though the recent storm has brought much-needed rain to the area, it's still too soon to see how much of an impact its going to make on local reservoirs.

As of Wednesday, numbers from Lopez Lake east of Arroyo Grande, showed it was at 51 percent capacity. That's about five percent less than it was at the same time last year.

In northern San Luis Obispo County, Lake Nacimiento was listed at 52 percent.

Cachuma Lake in Santa Barbara County, is at 71 percent capacity, down just two percent from March 2019.

In Santa Maria, the rain is helping recharge the local groundwater basin.

"After a fairly dry winter, we're happy to rainfall in March," said Santa Maria utilities director Shad Springer. "The good news is that the City of Santa Maria has two sources of water, both the State Water Project and groundwater. We're always glad to see local rain because it helps recharge the groundwater basin and it also helps conserves water because people can turnoff their irrigation."

Springer added that Santa Maria's water sources are at a healthy level.

"As part of the annual report for the Twitchell Management Authority, we do a groundwater assessment," Springer said. "The last report was based on last year, and it indicates the groundwater basin is still within the historic norm. We do have the Twitchell Reservoir, just upstream of us, which is designed to recharge the groundwater basin, so based on the large rains last year, it was able to flow water in the Santa Maria River most of the summer, which allowed significant recharge in the basin."

Springer is already looking ahead to the rest of the year and estimates city tap water will be an even combination from both sources.

"Depending on the availability of State Water, the City blends that State Water, which is higher quality with our local groundwater," said Springer. "This year, based on the water resources available that we have through State Water, we anticipate a blend of about 50/50 between the local groundwater and the State Water that we'll import as part of the State Water Project."

Agriculture / California / Environment / Outdoors / San Luis Obispo County / Santa Maria - North County

Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at KCOY|KEYT|KKFX.