Fishermen upset as water flows out of Lopez Lake

January 18, 2017
Lopez lake

Lopez lake

About 3 million gallons of water are released daily from Lopez Lake in order to satisfy legal mandates, including environmental laws and groundwater requirements. The dumping of water is upsetting fishermen, who despite the recent rain, still do not have access to Lopez Lake. [KSBY]

The water that is released from Lopez Lake flows into a stream. More than half of the water released downstream is used by farmers, said Mark Hutchinson, of San Luis Obispo County Public Works.

Hutchinson said water flowing downstream recharges groundwater and keeps agriculture in business through the summer. He also said all of the cities that use surface water from Lopez Lake also rely on groundwater as a supplementary source.

A minimum amount of water released from Lopez Lake must be kept in the creek for fish and wildlife, Hutchinson also said.

Lopez Lake currently contains 14,092 acre feet of water and is at 28.5 percent capacity. Last July, the lake fell to 26.4 percent capacity, or 13,087 acre-feet.

Water levels declined further as the year progressed. In August, officials closed the boat launch ramp at Lopez Lake. The boat ramp has remained closed due to low water levels, even as rain has fallen this winter.

Local fisherman Kenneth Whalen said boaters are upset that the ramp remains closed. As rain comes in, officials should let the lake level return to where it was previously, rather than wasting the water by sending it downstream, Whalen said.

Public works officials also defend the practice of releasing water from the lake by saying it is done at Nacimiento Lake and Salinas Reservoir, as well. Additionally, public works officials say there are three streams which feed into Lopez Lake, and they are all currently running.

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Sorry Lopez Fishermen, your concerns are the lowest on the totem pole after drinking water, groundwater replenishment, water for farms, and sending water into the creek. You fishermen fish for fun on the lake, I need Lopez water to live, farmers need water for their crops, animals in AG Creek need some water to survive. Do you really not understand that your sportfishing is last on the list? Go move somewhere like Minnesota or Michigan if you love lake fishing so much.

Fishermen are upset about protecting fish.

Not to mention, the lake was once a river, as “God” intended it to be. <-said a fisherman

Water is a shared resource. A fisherman in Lopez Lake is concerned he’s not getting enough water? Take a number and move to the back of the line… That’s all I can recommend.

I can understand releasing some water to replenish groundwater during times of inadequate rainfall. I do not understand why water is being released now that in all probability will flow directly into the Pacific,

Steelhead live in the ocean. Lots of stuff live there.

Say what they will, I see them draining off old scummy water to be quenched with the new. It’s all about microbes per million, I call this activity “a curtsey flush”.

“A minimum amount of water released from Lopez Lake must be kept in the creek for fish and wildlife, Hutchinson also said”

There it is in a nutshell, don’t give me the agriculture argument. This is just another official placing fish over people in the chain. There should be nothing wrong with allowing the lake to fill before you flush the water downhill.

The reasons to release the water are many in number, and yes the fish are part of that consideration. But the main reason is the proper management of the water basin.

The truth is we should be putting rubber dams in along the way to trap as much as possible of the release as it makes it’s way to the pacific—in Monterey–Marina Ca. That is the way it is done up north with Naci and San Antonio outflow. They release year round, and yes it is for agriculture. BTW–the farmer’s paid for the north county dams by raising taxes on themselves years ago, so up north it is their water to manage–not recent homeowners around the lakes.

Living nearby the outflow I have a well goes 150 ft deep. I find water at about 12 feet.

We don’t have ground water issues like most of SLO County, as the resource is managed properly. I also see the added benefit of a waterway that has active wildlife. We have fish, crawdads, freshwater clams, frogs, fowl that utilize this managed water way year round. Bald eagles patrol the river and nearby grasslands. Deer, coyote, bore, mountain lion, and bobcat’s round out the mix. Oh yeah–I float it too.

The thing is the tree huggers would rail against this type of water way management, and the complain about everthing’ers find common purpose here (why are they draining this damn dam ?).

I’ll leave it to the professionals to manage, knowing that they have our best interests at stake and make hard choices about managing a shared resource.

But let’s not think critically about a subject—it is so much more fun to flog a strawman.

Dam(n) fish loving tree huggers ruin it for everyone.

Oh almost forgot about there are beaver in the Salinas. We got lot’s of beaver up north!!

I suspect that these lonely fisherman might not be so upset if they thought they too may spot a friendly beaver along the way. I know I am usually left speechless when I happen to come across one in the field.

Just a thought.

I don’t know if your “tree huggers” comments were made sarcastically or not but I suspect that most of them would agree with your other points — as do I. Lopez Lake was not built solely for the pleasure of boaters. I have seen nothing yet to indicate that the professionals managing it are not doing their jobs fairly and intelligently.

MrYan. You seemed to be a reasoned person. And yes, it is a water management problem we have. Not a drought problem. And until we accept the needs of people over other entities… California will never solve its water issues. So “tree huggers” ARE the source of many of the problems we have because “people” are left out of their equation.

Nosum, Not a drought problem? The how do you explain that all our reservoirs are drying up, trees are dying, animals are dying, that the land’s drying out? Oh, I guess that too’s just a bunch of tree huggers up to no good.

Ricky2 my good man (or woman, since I guess “Ricky” can go both ways). California is an arid climate. Always has been. We (man/woman) supplied the water to make it flourish and support millions… not just a few Chumash and Spanish missionaries. And as the population grows… much through our porous borders that I’m sure you love… guess what? We need more water. But for the past 40 years or so, we haven’t done anything to capture that water. And as a result, Ricky2 my dear, the existing reservoirs dry up, the trees die, animals die… and the poor folks living in the central valley loose their means of subsistence. But you don’t care my darling tree hugger, because you are emotionally attached to nature, and not man. And that…. is why we have a water management problem, not a drought problem.

You can’t blame me for speculating, we have had one example after another where people in this state have been 2nd in consideration over land, animal life and water for decades now.

KSBY reported old news, and now you made it even older. The ramp at Lopez has been open for at least three days.

Three “Whole” days?

Lopez dam was built in the late ’60s. It was just a few years ago that they released water because the dam might not be safe in an earthquake. So then South County water users were taxed to pay for stabilization columns to strengthen the dam. Now it’s to replenish ground water? I say it’s it’s just more government control!

Woulda been so much better to ignore the earthquake problem and just let the dam fail and wipe out all those downstream water users, right?

Down with gummit. Let them drink champagne.