Heavy rains from a series of atmospheric river storms have filled another San Luis Obispo County lake to the brink of spilling for the first time in more than two decades. According to a report from the Tribune, Lopez Lake near Arroyo Grande was at 92.6% capacity as of Friday afternoon, according to data from SLO County Public Works, a massive gain from where it was just three months ago.
As recently as Dec. 10, Lopez was at a mere 22% of capacity. On Jan. 1, it was at 24%. Less than a week ago, however, the reservoir had improved to 66% filled. The combination of multiple atmospheric rivers in January and March now has it nearly at capacity.
“It’s definitely going to spill,” San Luis Obispo County Public Works Department spokeswoman Paula McCambridge told The Tribune. “It’s the last of the (county-maintained) reservoirs to reach 100% capacity.”
McCambridge said because the reservoir continues to fill with runoff from the recent storm, the lake level is rising each day. If the region got no more rain, she said Public Works estimates Lake Lopez would spill in about eight days. “Tuesday’s storm could be enough to put it over the top,” she said.
McCambridge said the last time the reservoir spilled was in 1998. In the lake’s more than five decades in operation, it has spilled 18 times in total, she added. As of Friday afternoon, the water level at Lopez Lake was at 518 feet, while the spillway level is at 522 feet, according to Public Works.
The reservoir, which was established in 1968, can store a maximum of 49,388 acre-feet of water and contained 45,751 acre-feet of water as of Friday, according to the data. It is also used for recreational activities such as boating, camping, fishing and mountain biking and also provides water to residents of the Five Cities area of SLO County.