Salinas Reservoir

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Current Reservoir Level

General Overview

The Salinas Dam was built in 1941 by the War Department to supply water to Camp San Luis Obispo and, secondarily, to meet the water needs of the City. The Salinas Reservoir (Santa Margarita Lake) captures water from a 112 square mile watershed and can currently store up to 23,843 Acre-Feet. In 1947, the Salinas Dam and delivery system was transferred from the regular Army to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Since the late 40s or early 50s, the San Luis Obispo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District has operated this water supply for the City under a lease from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Water from the reservoir is pumped through the Cuesta Tunnel (a one mile long tunnel through the mountains of the Cuesta Ridge) and then flows by gravity to the City’s Water Treatment Plant on Stenner Creek Road. The City has water rights to store up to 45,000 Acre-Feet. The original design of the dam included a gate in the spillway to increase the storage capacity.



Maximum Storage Capacity = 23,842.9 Acre-Feet 

Minimum Pool = 2,000 Acre-Feet

Surface Area = 730 Acres

Drainage Area = 112 Square Miles




Available Recreation

Recreation facilities at Santa Margarita Lake are operated by the County of San Luis Obispo as a County Park and provide opportunities for boating, fishing, picnicking and camping. No body contact (swimming, waterskiing, etc.) is allowed in the lake because it is a domestic water supply reservoir. For more information call (805) 438-5485, or visit their website Santa Margarita Lake - SLO County Parks