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Lack of January rain hurting water levels at local reservoirs

Lopez Lake
Lopez Lake water level sits far below capacity. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. -- A mostly dry January is hurting water levels at Central Coast reservoirs.

Over the course of three-plus weeks, very little rain has fallen during the month, preventing area lakes from benefiting from many were hoping would be a wet winter.

Instead, water levels have risen very little over the past two months, despite a wet start to the winter season in mid-December when a handful of storms brought much-needed rain to the area.

In Santa Barbara County, Cachuma Lake is currently at 48.3% capacity, which it has remained at since the start of the month. On Dec. 1, 2021, the lake was at 47.6% capacity.

"It takes a lot more," said Todd Stepien, Cachuma Lake Park Operations Manager. "It takes a significant more rain. If Gibraltar fills up, and they spill over in Gibraltar, and we'll get some of that water, but it's going to need a lot of rain."

Stepien said he keeps a close eye on the weather and is hoping for wet February and March, as opposed to the conditions experienced in January.

"I think the rains, if we can continue with more rain, I believe we can fill this lake up and spill, but it's going to need a significant amount of rain to do that," said Stepien. "Right now, we have a lot of green grounds and more rain would keep the grounds green, but the lake level needs to be up. We need to get that as full as we can."

Lopez Lake in San Luis Obispo County is in worse shape than Cachuma. It is currently at 30.1% capacity. On Dec. 1, 2021, it was at 28.8% capacity, so like Cachuma Lake, it's seen it's level bump up just a minimal amount.

In Northern San Luis Obispo County, Lake Nacimiento, which is owned by Monterey County, is listed at 29% capacity.

In Ventura County, Lake Casitas is also in need of some stormy weather. Right now, the lake is listed at 35% percent capacity.

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Dave Alley

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

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