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Local lakes are getting closer to capacity 

Lake Nacimiento January 31 2017

Lake Nacimiento is at 81-percent capacity. Photo courtesy Nacimiento Resort webcam, January 31, 2017

Lake Nacimiento is at 81-percent capacity, Santa Margarita at 73-percent

–Local lakes, with the exception of Lake San Antonio, are getting closer to capacity with each rainfall. According to the water levels report from the Monterey County Water Resources Agency, Lake Nacimiento is at 81-percent capacity as of January 30. Lake San Antonio, closed in July 2015, is at 25-percent capacity and remains closed until further notice. Santa Margarita Lake comes in second at 73-percent capacity followed by Whale Rock Reservoir at 55-percent. Lake Lopez around 34-percent.

The percentages of capacity are in relation to the number of acre feet the lakes hold when full. Full capacity for Lake Nacimiento is 337,900 acre feet; Lake Lopez is approximately 49,200 acre feet, Whale Rock Reservoir is 38,967 and Santa Margarita Lake is 23,842 acre feet. Lake San Antonio’s full capacity is 335,000 acre feet. These lakes are major water sources for the communities they serve as well as providing recreational opportunities and natural resources.

Lopez Lake Marina Manager Kim Sylvester said the boat ramp opened on Jan. 19 and the lake is still filling. “We gained about 15 feet from this last rain and I can see runoff still coming in from our inflow creeks.” The lake receives inflow from three creeks: Arroyo Grande Creek, Huffs Hole Creek, and Phoenix Creek.

Santa Margarita Lake Park Aide Jason Cottee said the main boat ramp is open and the White Oaks launch ramp should be open very soon. Cottee also said there is some debris in the lake from the Salinas River inflow and warned that boaters should exercise caution.

Two smaller lakes, Atascadero Lake and San Luis Obispo’s Laguna Lake provide the communities with recreational and natural resource opportunities. Assistant City Manager Terri Banish said Atascadero Lake is 85% full and the capacity is 209 acre feet.

Atascadero Lake Jan 15 Jean Hehn-Bradley

Atascadero Lake as of January 15. Photo courtesy Jean Hehn-Bradley.

City of San Luis Obispo Natural Resources Manager Bob Hill said that Laguna Lake is at 100-percent of its 428 acre feet capacity. Laguna Lake is a natural reserve serving as a migratory stop and home to a variety of waterfowl. The water is not used as a water supply. The lake went dry in 2015 due to the drought but has been refilled by runoff from the Irish Hills and the Los Osos Valley watershed. Canoes and kayaks are allowed in the lake as well as fishing, but Hill said the catch is still very limited because the fish population is still recovering from the drought.

A quick look at lake levels and capacities

  • Lake Nacimiento has the capacity of 337,900 acre feet. At 81-percent full it now holds 273,699 acre feet, needing 64,201 more acre feet to be considered full.
  • Lake San Antonio has the capacity of 335,000 acre feet. At 25-percent full it is holding 83,750 acre feet, more than 250,000 acre feet short of being full.
  • Lake Lopez has the capacity of between 49,000 and approximately 51,000 acre feet, depending on the amount of sludge that has built up. Lake Lopez Park Ranger Ryan Wemple confirmed that the lake is at 34% capacity, which is approximately 17,121 acre feet. Another 31,000 acre feet will fill it to capacity.
  • Whale Rock Reservoir has the capacity of 38,967 acre feet. At 55-percent capacity the reservoir is holding 21,611 acre feet, needing 17,356 more acre feet to fill.
  • Santa Margarita Lake has the capacity of 23,842 acre feet. At 73-percent capacity the lake is holding 17,415 acre feet, needing 6,427 acre feet more to be full.

Photos of local waterways

Click here to see recent videos and photos of the Salinas River, Atascadero Lake and other local waterways.

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About the author: Reporter Jackie Iddings

Jackie Iddings is a contributing reporter and photographer for the Paso Robles Daily News.

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