If you were hoping to go boating on Lopez Lake after Memorial Day, there might be a small kink to your plans.
The San Luis Obispo County Parks and Recreation Department has announced it is closing the popular South County lake’s boat launch ramp on Monday, May 16, due to low lake levels.
Park Ranger Miles Tuinstra told The Tribune on Friday the closure was due to the lake’s dropping water levels.
“We’ve kept it open as long as we can,” he said. “There’s just no water.”
Tuinstra said only so-called “hand launch” crafts like kayaks, canoes and float tubes will be allowed to be launched after that point. The Lopez Lake Marina’s rentable pontoons and boats will also still be available to use since they are already on the water.
Tuinstra said the ramp will remain closed until there is enough water in the lake to support launching again.
Other recreation activities such as the Mustang Waterpark, Vista Lago Adventure Park and camping are expected to continue as usual this summer.
Lopez Lake water levels drop as drought worsens
As of Friday, Lopez Lake was about 28% of capacity, holding an estimated 13,895 acre feet of water, according to the county’s water website.
That’s its lowest level since January 2017, according to the data.
A year ago, the lake was at roughly 39% of capacity — holding roughly 19,100 acre feet — and it has continued to drop since then, despite early winter rains helping to replenish the reservoir slightly.
In 2021, the ramp also closed early. That closure came in August, after the summer season was partially underway.
The latest ramp closure comes as drought conditions across San Luis Obispo County worsen.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, all areas of the county except the coastal regions are experiencing “extreme” drought conditions as of Thursday.
This includes the area surrounding Lopez Lake, where only about 1.37 inches of rainfall have been recorded since the start of the year, according to the county’s precipitation data.