About the Colony

Why Atascadero Lake’s steady rise suddenly stalled

Atascadero Lake’s water levels have risen steadily in January but were stalled briefly by a problem with a feeder pipe.
Atascadero Lake’s water levels have risen steadily in January but were stalled briefly by a problem with a feeder pipe. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

In reporting last week’s column on the rain, it struck me that Atascadero Lake would probably spill with the coming of the next storm, which indeed hit us hard last weekend.

By my measurement, the lake rose more than 6 inches in the 24-hour period of Jan. 21 to 22. But when I measured the height of the water Jan. 23, there was no difference. It was about 16 inches away from going over the spillway.

My prediction — like last year’s professional observations that it was going to be an El Niño rainy season, or that there was no way Donald Trump could win the election — was off.

I’ve been measuring the water level almost every day all week, and the water has stopped rising. I take my measurement from the water to the mark on the retaining wall in front of the Lake Pavilion. When it reaches the top of that wall, the water historically goes over the nearby spillway, flowing back to Atascadero Creek.

Several other lake watchers agreed with me that the water level seemed to be “holding” at the same level.

Last Sunday morning, someone suggested that maybe the city closed the valve that brings Atascadero Creek water into the lake. That has happened in the past when the city wanted to reduce the water level to make room for expected rains. I hadn’t thought of that, so I thought I’d check.

Sure enough, the pickup pipe that brings water from Atascadero Creek about a mile away has been closed for the past week. City Manager Rachelle Rickard said a problem erupted in the fill line, and it was sending water right back to the creek. The pipe or a manhole is expected to be repaired this week, and the shutoff valve will be reopened.

This will be just in time for the rain that’s coming later this week.

The lake is looking like its old self.

Thanks to Friends of Atascadero Lake for all the trimming around the shoreline. Now would be a good time to consider cleaning up the island, which was created in 1962. Instead of hauling the dirt away as the lake was dredged, they dumped the dirt there to make the island.

I still have to get on the city’s case about the retaining wall between the pavilion and boat dock. That wall has been in a sorry state of disrepair for the 51 years I’ve lived in Atascadero.

You would have thought that the city might have found the means to rebuild it, especially with the city highlighting Atascadero Lake and the Charles Paddock Zoo as a way to bring people to town. The area needing repair had no water near it for almost five years. There was time to get in there and make that repair.

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 805-466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.

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