Rangers don’t expect the latest rainfall to make much difference at Lopez Lake

The entire state of California is in drought and reservoirs here on the Central Coast are recording lower and lower levels.

Vivian Rennie and Dave Hovde

Keith Kuiken, a park ranger at Lopez Lake in Arroyo Grande, said the last time the lake got close to full was back in 2012 when it reached 80%.

“We’ll need significantly more to, you know, saturate the ground and to get runoff and to get our creeks flowing,” said Kuiken.

The reservoir fills up slower than other lakes in the county, according to Kuiken, because it is not connected to a river system. “You can see a high water line throughout the canyon here, and that would be at that 100% level. So currently we are at 24%. So we would need a significant waterfall over. I would think the next few winters to see a significant rise back to that 80 to 90% level.

Rain is the sole source that fills the lake and rangers last saw the reservoir this low back in 2016. Some of the impacts of the low levels include community water usage—along with recreational use for swimming, boating, and fishing.

“There’s a dramatic impact in regards to, you know, our, you know, fees and, you know, raising money for, you know, county parks and things like that.”

Rain after a long dry spell can potentially worsen erosion according to the rangers. However, they added that they are not expecting to take any proactive measures this year, which includes placing sandbags and retaining walls.

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