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How the City of San Luis Obispo storm team is working to prevent flooding

Posted at 11:00 PM, Jan 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-13 02:39:13-05

With the rain forecast to arrive in buckets over the next week, the City of San Luis Obispo is prepared even if the rain falls heavily within a short time period.

On Friday, the creek flowing through downtown was small, but still sporting flow thanks to the last storm.

City biologists Freddy Otte said there isn’t much concern should the forecast stay the course, but warned mother nature can have her own ideas.

The city’s storm water team is prepared should rainfall pick up. Forty individuals are focused just on the storm water program.

“That helps with the conveyance from the streets down into the creek system,” Otte said. “And the pollutant removal, so everything that washes off the street that gets into the creek system, we’re trying to alleviate that as much as possible.”

It has been decades since the last significant rainfall that really strained infrastructure. Since then, the city has taken a multi-pronged approach in keeping the city prepared.

Storm drains are regularly cleaned and maintained to ensure no blockage or flooding.

Throughout next week, crews will remain on standby should anything arise.

“If we get to a point where we see blockages or a pinch point, we have crews out with equipment that can come through and try to alleviate those threats even during the storm as its coming down,” Otte said.

In a press release on Friday, the city stated on any rainy day, crews patrol four storm zones. A crew is assigned to each zone and inspects approximately 150 ‘hot spots’ for downed trees, flooding, debris flow, and responds to calls for service. In the evening, police officers patrol critical areas and rangers routinely inspect the creeks to check if anyone is camping in a potential flood zone.

The rain also brings an ecological impact. Fish rely on the creek.

“We hadn’t seen any adult fish in here until the last storm, just that one inch we got. So it will be really interesting to see what five inches can do for us,” said Melia Green, who works alongside fellow Watershed Stewardship Program member Douglas Platt, monitoring the changes in habitat.

“It just goes to show that this part of California goes through some crazy annual changes,” Platt said.


  • To report incidents during normal business hours (Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.), call 805-781-RAIN (805-781-7246).
  • To report an incident after hours and on weekends, call the police department’s non-emergency line at 805-781-7312.
  • If it’s an emergency, call 911.

The City provides sand at four locations. Please bring your own sandbags that can be purchased at local hardware stores.

  • City Corp Yard at 25 Prado
  • Laguna Lake Golf Course on Los Osos Valley Road
  • Sinsheimer Park parking lot
  • Santa Rosa Park