For only the fourth time in its 55-year history, Nacimiento Lake is full and spilling.
The lake reached 100 percent capacity late Sunday night at 378,480 acre-feet.
Built in 1956, the reservoir filled in 1967, 1969 and 1983, said Robert Johnson, chief of water resources planning for the Monterey County Water Resources Agency in Salinas.
Monterey County operates the lake north of Paso Robles.
The level of the lake came up quickly over the weekend. Saturday’s storm put it over the top. The webpage for the Lake Nacimiento Resort reports that the level has risen 40 feet with the recent storms.
“These rains have been unbelievable for this late in the season,” Johnson said.
The full reservoir means more recreational opportunities at the lake and plenty of water downstream for farmers. Residents report that a day-use picnic area at Heritage Ranch is now underwater.
“A full lake is very attractive for guests,” he said.
Although located in San Luis Obispo County, Nacimiento Lake is owned and operated by Monterey County as part of its Salinas Valley Water Project.
That project provides flood control, water for farmers and prevents saltwater intrusion into the valley’s aquifer.
The agency recently completed a spillway modification at the lake that allows the height of the spillway to be increased throughout the winter. At its maximum height, the spillway is 800 feet.“We did not increase the capacity of the lake, but we increased our storage flexibility,” Johnson said.