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Local reservoirs need more rainfall to help raise current levels

Lopez Lake
Lopez Lake sits at 39% capacity on Thursday. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. -- The first major storm of the season brought much-needed rainfall to the Central Coast three weeks ago.

However, since it's been a dry start to the winter, with unseasonably warm weather forecast for the Central Coast for the next several days.

With temperatures set to soar into the 80's in many places, the lack of precipitation is not helping restore local reservoir levels.

In San Luis Obispo County, Lopez Lake is only at 39.7% capacity.

"39 percent capacity is what we're at right now, so it is fairly low this time of year," said Keith Kuiken, Lopez Lake Park Ranger. "The level right now is a little concerning, just due to this point being 39%. If we get into late July and August with no more rain, it would be real interesting to see what we're looking at. It could be a replay of a few years back and we would like to avoid that."

The number marks a significant drop since the lake reached its highest level over the past calendar year.

In mid-April 2020, Lopez Lake recorded its highest level of the year at 52.3%

"It's been very dry," said Kuiken. "We've had about two-and-a-half inches of rain since this July, so the only way the lake level fills is with precipitation and all the creeks flowing and obviously, we haven't had any of that this year."

In north San Luis Obispo County, Lake Nacimiento is faring much worse.

Right now, the lake is measuring just 22% capacity.

At nearby Lake San Antonio, it's just 16% full.

In Santa Barbara County, some lake levels are faring better, while other are in desperate need of wet weather.

Cachuma Lake currently sits 64% full, while Jameson Reservoir is at 75%.

Just east of Santa Maria, Twitchell Reservoir is nearly dry at just 1.5% of capacity, while at Gibraltar Reservoir is at 10.2%.

In Ventura County, Lake Casitas is listed at 39% capacity.

With many lake levels so low, the hope for many is dry weather will soon make way for winter storms that will bring much-needed precipitation.

"We need the rainfall," said Kuiken. "That way we can get some lake rise up here and sustain us through the summer season. It has to be substantial. A few rain systems here and there that are scattered is enough to allow for some vegetation to grow, but to get that rise, we need that consistent rainfall to keep the creeks flowing in order to get the lake level to rise."

California / Environment / Lifestyle / Outdoors / San Luis Obispo County / Santa Barbara - South County / Santa Maria - Lompoc - North County
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Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.

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