History of Flooding Problems

1973 flooding at Los Osos Valley Road and Highway 101.
1973 Flooding at Los Osos Valley Road

There is a long history of flooding in the SLO Creek Watershed. Damaging floods have occurred in 1868-62, 1884, 1897, 1911, 1948, 1952, 1962, 1969, 1973, 1995, and 1998.

The most recent damaging floods occurred during January and March 1995, with a lesser flooding problem in 1998. Within San Luis Obispo, flow during these events overtopped streambanks near the intersection of Marsh and Higuera Streets and remained out of the channel for nearly three miles downstream, with damage estimated at nearly $2.3 million (ACOE, 2000). The City and Zone 9 also spent approximately $1 million to repair bank erosion caused during the winter of 1995. Damage occurred near the town of Avila during both the January and March 1995 events, where high flow and debris blockages caused extensive damage to several bridges across the creek.

Historically, the 1969 and 1973 events were more damaging than the 1995 floods, in present day dollars. According to ACOE estimates (in year 2000 dollars), the 1969 storm caused approximately $6.92 million damage within the SLO Creek watershed, and

1973 flooding at Higuera and Nipomo
Nipomo and Higuera Flooding

the 1973 storm caused $13.6 million (of which $899,000 occurred along Stenner Creek, $161,000 along Brizziolari Creek, $3.6 million along Prefumo Creek, and $241,000 along See Canyon Creek)


Adapted from: San Luis Obispo Waterway Management Plan 98202WMP 3-3-2003.doc, section 3.4.1