Water levels down, but not out at Nacimiento Lake

Lake is less than half full, but higher than it was in 2010

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comMay 26, 2013 

Nacimiento Lake is at 44 percent of capacity, according to the Monterey County Water Authority.

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

Two years after Nacimiento Lake was at full capacity, a dry rainy season has left the popular recreational destination at less than half that level for a normally busy Memorial Day weekend.

According to the Monterey County Water Resources Agency, the lake was at 44 percent capacity this week.

A full reservoir means there will be more recreational opportunities at the lake, a popular spot for boating, water skiing and fishing. At the beginning of 2010, when the lake was only at 16 percent, some private docks sat on exposed mud.

While the current 44 percent isn’t anywhere as low as it was in early 2010, the level pales in comparison to spring of 2011. Then, Nacimiento Lake was at 100 percent capacity for only the fourth time in its 55-year history.

Built in 1956, the reservoir previously filled in 1967, 1969 and 1983.

Robert Johnson, chief of water resources planning for the Monterey County Water Resources Agency in Salinas, could not be reached for comment. Although the lake is in San Luis Obispo County, Monterey County operates it because it’s part of the Salinas Valley Water Project, which provides flood control, water for farmers and prevents saltwater intrusion into the valley’s aquifer.

Even at 44 percent capacity, the Lake Nacimiento Resort required guests to stay at least three days, anticipating a busy weekend.

John Allen, assistant manager of the marina at Lake Nacimiento, said Sunday that tourist numbers look to be on par with last year.

“Overflow [camping] is totally packed — there’s tents, motorhomes, trailers everywhere. It’s turning out to be a fun weekend,” he said.

According to the latest data from SLOCountyWater.org, nearby Lake San Antonio is at 42 percent capacity. Other local lake levels include the Salinas Reservoir in Santa Margarita at 55 percent; Lopez Lake in Arroyo Grande at 73 percent; and Whale Rock Reservoir in Cayucos at 68 percent.

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