Water & Drought

Lopez Lake boat launch ramp closes because of low water

This is how dry Lopez Lake has gotten this summer

Take a look around Lopez Lake, and it's clear why the boat launch ramp was closed. As of Monday, July 25, 2016, the Arroyo Grande lake was 26.5 percent full.
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Take a look around Lopez Lake, and it's clear why the boat launch ramp was closed. As of Monday, July 25, 2016, the Arroyo Grande lake was 26.5 percent full.

After weeks of hints, Lopez Lake rangers have officially closed the lake’s boat launch ramp to large watercraft, though small, nonmotorized boats such as kayaks and canoes can still be hand-launched.

According to a post on the South County recreation area’s Facebook page Friday, the ramp is no longer deep enough to launch motorized boats due to the low water level. In the post, officials wrote that dredging the ramp during the winter helped add additional months of launching, but further dredging would cost more than $75,000 and is not guaranteed to work.

Motorized boats that don’t require launching are still available to be rented through the marina store.

Ranger supervisor Bob Yetter said Monday that he doesn’t expect the ramp to open again until significant rainfall replenishes the lake.

“It would take a lot of rain in a short period of time,” he said. “We were expecting that this past winter, and it just didn’t happen, so it’s hard to predict.”

Park rangers estimated in June that that ramp would have to close sometime this summer unless unexpected rain managed to refresh the reservoir that has been harshly impacted by drought. At the time, many estimates said the ramp could close sometime after July 4, though rangers also said they would keep the ramp open as long as possible.

“People are still out there enjoying the water,” Yetten said. “But this is the first time this has happened on the lake. It’s sad.”

Yetter noted that after examining the early plans for the lake, officials initially thought there was another lower auxiliary ramp that could be used as the lake levels dropped, somewhere in the Mallard Cove area of the lake, but they have so far been unable to locate it. Yetter said at this point, they are unsure if the ramp the plans call for was even built.

“And really, it would be just as covered in mud as the main ramp,” he said.

The lake serves as a water source for parts of the South County, as well as a recreation area with surrounding campsites, a marina, water park and zip lining adventure park.

As of Monday, Lopez Lake was 26.5 percent full, holding an estimated 13,094 acre-feet of water (roughly 4.27 billion gallons of water). By comparison, the lake at full capacity holds about 49,388 acre-feet, or 16.1 billion gallons, of water.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

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