Rainfall has little impact on low water levels of Lopez Lake, Lake Nacimiento

Posted at 6:44 PM, Oct 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-03 21:44:26-04

Rainfall Wednesday may not have directly influenced the critically low water levels of several Central Coast reservoirs and lakes, officials said, but it does lay the groundwork for future rainfall to make an impact.

“It saturates the ground it sets the good foundation for future rains so it can run off into those reservoirs,” San Luis Obispo County Supervising Water Resources Engineer Ray Dienzo said.

Dienzo noted that the water levels at Lopez Lake and Lake Nacimiento were at 43.9 percent and 13 percent respectively Wednesday, which is significantly low even for this time of year.

“We’re slowly receding, we started the summer in the 50 percentile range, now we’re in 40 percent,” Lopez Lake Park Ranger Lenny Cridebringer said.

For that percentage to change, Dienzo said the measurable rainfall would need to be much greater.

“We wouldn’t see any changes in the reservoir levels until we see half an inch to an inch to saturate the ground,” Deinzo said. “After that, we can get good run off into those reservoirs.”

While the water level is low, Lopez Lake was even drier July 3, according to the county water resources page, measuring 38.4 percent of capacity.

Cridebringer said the lake dipped below 20 percent full about two or three years ago but he’s not too concerned.

“We do see increasing lake levels, decreasing lake levels, it’s kind of the ecology of a man-made lake,” Cridebringer said.

Cridebringer said the lower water level hasn’t slowed down the trickle of tourism.

“We were pretty busy this summer, our boat ramps were still open, people still using the lake,” Cridebringer said.

On the contrary, Lake Nacimiento’s receding water level has frustrated recreators and residents alike.

The water depth at Lake Nacimiento has been declining a measurable amount on almost a daily basis, according to county data.

Dienzo said Wednesday’s rainfall is a hopefull sign of things to come, but said it’s not a good indicator of what the levels at each body of water will look like next year.