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Lopez Lake is near capacity and the reservoir is expected to spill over for the first time in 25 years

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Posted at 4:54 PM, Mar 22, 2023

After months of heavy rain battering the Central Coast, Lopez Lake is near capacity and the reservoir is expected to spill over for the first time in 25 years.

“I’ve never seen it look like this,” said Jesse Dundon, San Luis Obispo resident.

The spectacle of a nearly full reservoir is attracting visitors and those waiting to see the spillway being utilized for the first time in more than two decades.

“It’s really shocking,” Dundon said.

Dundon says although it looks like it’ll be a great season on the lake, the water level does change things.

“It totally changes your perspective on which campsites are the good campsites because ones that you’ve never even considered like down by the kid’s play structure are the ones that are closest to the water now,” Dundon said.

The lake level increase this year has been dramatic.

“We went from the lake being at 23 percent capacity in December to completely full just three months later, so that’s pretty amazing,” said Kate Ballantyne, San Luis Obispo County Deputy Director of Public Works.

When the lake spills over, the water will travel through the spillway to the Arroyo Grande Creek, which is why an evacuation warning remains in place for Oceano residents near the creek.

“It will travel through the Arroyo Grande Creek through Arroyo Grande and eventually make its way to the Pacific Ocean," Ballantyne said.

Ballantyne says the lake is within inches of spilling over.

“I estimate that we will spill at some point today in a matter of hours,” Ballantyne said.