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Recent rainfall to provide minimal increase to water levels at Central Coast reservoirs

Lopez Lake
Lopez Lake boat ramp sits well below the marina due to low capacity level on Tuesday morning. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- Monday's rainstorm packed a pretty good punch throughout the morning before dissipating by the early afternoon.

The hours-long rainfall was much-needed, but will help provide only a very small, if any, increase to Central Coast reservoirs and other water supplies, such as groundwater.

While the storm passed more than 24 hours ago, it typically takes a few days for reservoir levels to see any sort of increase as water runoff flows in gradually.

However, the ground is so dry that much of the water soaked into the ground, providing negligible runoff.

"A lot of it was absorbed by the ground," said Matt Mohle, Lopez Lake Supervising Park Ranger. "The ground is incredibly dry. We went out and dug some holes yesterday, and you dig down three or four inches, and it's bone dry. We did get some runoff, but just not enough to get the creeks going. Once the creeks start flowing, that's when you really see significant lake rise."

As of Tuesday morning, Lopez Lake was listed at 30.1% full on the county's Public Works website.

Despite receiving more significant precipitation during the storm, Lopez Lake is currently at the exact same level it was one week ago.

The county's website reported the lake received more than two inches of rain on Monday.

On Tuesday, Cachuma Lake was listed at 48.4% capacity on the Santa Barbara County Public Works website. The lake level was essentially unchanged from the same level it was reported at over the past several days.

According to the county, Cachuma Dam station reported receiving just over 1.50 inches of water over the course of Monday's storm.

"It's a great start to the rainy season," said Lael Wageneck, Santa Barbara County Public Works Department Public Information Officer. "We didn't expect to see the rain and it was just nice to have an early rain."

Similar to Lopez Lake, Wageneck said dry conditions would likely prevent any significant increase to the water level at Cachuma.

"We had about an inch and a half at Lake Cachuma, but it didn't have any measurable impact on the water level at the lake," said Wageneck. "This is because it takes a few storms to saturate the ground, build up the water in the Santa Ynez River and upstream reservoirs before we see any lake level rise."

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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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