Another California reservoir just spilled for the first time in decades
Lake Lopez spilled for the first time in nearly two decades early Thursday morning, thanks to a flurry of rain from the latest storm to sweep through California this week.
The man-made reservoir — which serves as a water source for southern San Luis Obispo County as well as a popular recreational destination for boating, fishing, camping and swimming — reached 100% capacity at 4:21 a.m., according to the San Luis Obispo. County Public Works Department Whitewater Instructors.
The lake had been dumping 35.2 cubic feet of water per second around 8 a.m., live water monitors from the San Luis Obispo County Department of Public Works said.
The water spilled into the lake’s spillway, where it was directed into the Arroyo Grande stream.
This is the first time in 25 years that the South County Lake has overflowed. According to authorities, the lake last overflowed in 1998.
It was one of the last local reservoirs to reach full capacity after a winter with stronger than usual storms filled to capacity in recent weeks.
Lopez Lake notably started the year at an almost devastating 24% of its capacity on January 1, but successive storms helped to increase the level exponentially in the weeks that followed.
Before the lake reaches full capacity, officials said they plan to keep an eye out for potential flooding downstream once Lake Lopez overturns, as water will flow into the already flood-prone Arroyo Grande Creek. floods.
On Monday, residents of Oceano were warned of possible evacuations if the water level in the creek rose again drastically during the storm.
“We know that for residents of Oceano, evacuation fatigue is setting in,” Emergency Services Manager Scott Jalbert said in a county news release. “However, the water levels in the channel combined with additional rains and water spills from the reservoir create a potentially dangerous situation.”
Residents were told late Wednesday that the evacuation warning would remain in place until the lake drains and officials can assess the situation.