Lopez Lake could drop to a record low this year

The lake should be steadily rising this time of year. Instead, it's already starting to drop
Posted at 6:17 PM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-19 02:59:38-04

Lopez Lake is already dropping and it's only March.

According to San Luis Obispo County Public Works, Lopez Lake is projected to reach an all-time low sometime in late September or early October.

The lake should be steadily rising this time of year. Instead, it's already starting to drop.

"Since the big rains we had when the atmospheric river came overhead, it was down to where we almost couldn't launch here," said Arroyo Grande resident Curtis Wood."It jumped up about two feet with just a couple weeks of rain. Since then, we haven't had any. It's been dropping pretty quick again."

Lopez Lake was at just over 29 percent of capacity as of Friday.

The lake is so low that an access ramp by the main marina won't even reach the water. Fishermen are now concerned that they won't be able to reach the water much longer.

"We're just really concerned that we won't be able to launch our boats anymore," said Wood. "Boats like mine we need a good two, two-and-a-half feet of water to launch at minimum. There will be guys who will be able to come out here with their aluminum boats and hand launch and that'll go on for a long time. But a lot of us bass guys, we don't wanna downgrade."

Dropping lake levels also have implications for the Five Cities' water supply.

"The lowest point we ever got to was 11,000 acre-feet and that was back in 2016," said David Spiegel, an engineer for SLO County Public Works. "So if we do hit that 10,000-acre-foot trigger, it would be the worst the lake's ever seen."

Record low lake levels could trigger water cutbacks for agencies downstream.

"Our storage projections based on municipal deliveries and downstream releases, we are likely gonna hit that mark sometime in late-September, early-October, but that does not account for how agencies are making reductions currently," said Spiegel. "So, if everyone's good about conservation, that trigger will hopefully push out further into the year."

San Luis Obispo County Public Works is stressing the importance of water conservation to keep water in Lopez Lake.

The area has received over 11 inches of rain this year.

While that number isn't too bad, the ground was so dry that a lot of that water didn't make it into the lake.