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SLO County reservoirs improve after recent storms, but still measure low

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Angel Russell
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Christopher and Carson Wilson cruise on Lake Lopez in their boat.

Recent rains from a series of storms helped fill up local reservoir levels across the Central Coast.

Lake Nacimiento is up to 30 percent capacity since the recent storms, and Santa Margarita Lake is at 63 percent. Park ranger Josh Moore said Lake Lopez also saw a nice increase.

“We did get about two feet of lake rise with the recent rains,” Moore said.

But Moore said 30 percent full is still drastically low for Lake Nacimiento and Lake Lopez. Areas once covered in water are now grassland, and a sandbar exposes where the water used to be about 50 feet higher in years past.

"When we get out of town people ask, does it always look like this?" Morre said. "Which unfortunately, as of lately, it kind of has been.”

While the last rainstorm was good news for California’s water storage, the state is not out of the drought yet.

So, at Lake Lopez, boaters launch at their own risk.

“Oh, it's a lot of fun to sit here up top and just watch people,” said local fisherman Christopher Wilson.

Wilson said he sees a lot of people having a hard time launching with the water level so low.

“It’s out-of-towners that think, ‘Hey, let's get a boat, let's go to the lake,’ and they’ve never done it before," Wilson said. "This past summer there was a van that — I don’t know what happened, but the van and the boat ended up in the lake!”

Wilson has been fishing Lake Lopez since he was a kid. He said all jokes aside, the lake level is depressing. He pointed out an old boat ramp about 25 feet above the water.

“That is the original ramp for the rangers to get to their boat," Wilson said. "So, that tells you how far down the water is.”

Even though no storms look to be on the near horizon, Moore is staying positive.

“I’ve been pretty optimistic, you know?" Moore said. "This last one was good. You can only look out a few weeks, so we’ll see what happens.”

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Angel Russell started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, playing guitar and piano, and hanging out with her dog and husband.
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