City of San Diego puts one of the world’s best trophy bass fisheries in jeopardy

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  • Lake Miramar (formally Miramar Reservoir) is San Diego’s jewel of trophy bass fishing. Having produced 5 of the top 25 bass ever caught and documented, little Miramar is famously regarded as one as one of the most elite trophy bass fisheries in the entire world.

    And while we’ve seen a noticeable decline in historically giant bass catches in not only San Diego, but the United States in the last 15 years – Miramar continues to produce some of the biggest bass caught year in and year out. Notably, Miramar produced a 17 pound bass as recently as 2014 – a claim no other local lake in San Diego can make. And just this year, Miramar has produced the biggest reported bass in the county – a 14.8 pounder.

    Both historically and currently, Miramar is San Diego’s best big bass fishery.

    But that all might be in jeopardy as the city of San Diego pursues the “Pure Water San Diego” project in which they’ll be converting Miramar’s water from imported, nutrient rich water water to purified recycled water that has in the past been traced to the sterilization of male fish.

    The city of San Diego itself admits the possibility of a negative effect on recreational fisheries in its lakes as a result of the Pure Water project, but up until recently, the plan, and reports conducted were focused around mixing the recycled water into the larger Lower Otay and San Vicente Reservoirs. Subsequently, they claimed the risk of a negative impact was low, because in part, the recycled water would be mixed with, and not replace the imported water.

    The city of San Diego responded to fishery concerns raised by local California Department of Fish and Wildlife office in their “Final Program Environmental Impact Report” with the following;

    “Fish die offs from nutrient-poor conditions are not expected. As stated above, in either San Vicente or Otay Reservoir there will continue to be other sources of water in the reservoir. These other waters will have sufficient nutrients to sustain primary production [i.e., algae, the base of the food chain] at substantial levels. Modeling of San Vicente Reservoir shows levels of chlorophyll [a measure of primary production]to be unchanged from historic conditions.”

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  • What is most concerning though is that no mention is made of Miramar, and possibly Murray down the road of being used to store this water instead of mixing it in with the larger reservoirs. And that’s exactly the path we’re headed toward now, as last Summer the City fast-tracked a new plan to convert Miramar Reservoir to reclaimed water, because they’ll save money and time by not having to build a lengthier pipeline to San Vicente.

    And they’re not considering the impact that it’s going to have on Lake Miramar and Lake Murray. At least not publicly. The actual impact the program will have on the fisheries at Miramar and Murray are unknown – no one has bothered to look into it so far. As mentioned, previous studies have showed a direct link between recycled water and the feminization of male fish – leading to a sterile fish population. But those are old studies, and a whole lot of scientific jargon stands between making a correlation between those studies and the new processes used currently.

    The plan is to be sending 30 million gallons per day of purified recycled/reclaimed water to Miramar Reservoir by 2021. Unless anglers make their voices heard, Miramar’s trophy bass fishery MAY cease to exist as we know it in just a few years.

    In the very least, the city of San Diego needs to study and divulge the potential impacts of the sport fisheries in the smaller reservoirs in the same manner which they conducted the tests in Lower Otay and San Vicente at the start of this process.

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  • For now, we’re left with this – the single mention in the 908 page PEIR document of the potential negative impact the plan could have on one of the best trophy bass lakes in the world;

    “If, as described above, Miramar Reservoir and Lake Murray were converted to primarily purified
    water reservoirs, impacts could result to the fisheries supported by the reservoir, resulting in
    indirect impacts to recreation.”

    If you’re worried, you should be. And if you’re worried, you should contact your local City Councilmember.

    You can fill out this form to send the enclosed email to each member of the San Diego City Council, Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and Public Utilities Director Halla Razak.

    Ask the Mayor and Council to Consider Negative Impacts to the Fishery at Miramar Reservoir


    Dear Mayor Faulconer and San Diego City Councilmembers,

    **your signature**

    774 signatures

    Share this with your friends:


    Additionally, you can contact your local Councilmember by phone or email with a personalized message for maximum impact.

    Their contact info can be found below. If you’re unsure which district you reside in, you can use this map.

    If we don’t do something about this, bass like these from Miramar will be a thing of the past…

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    1. This is simply because San Diego doesn’t care about fisherman or fish. It’s all about the money from the water. They could care less about anything else…

    2. Toilet to tap here we come. And there goes the fisheries. Nice clean sterile environment which is great for water treatment and horrible for lake life and economic fallout from lack of fisherman . But they don’t care.

    3. Original plan, which was 12 years in the making, accounted for the fisheries. New plan, which was selected this summer, and fast-tracked for completion ahead of schedule, DOES NOT account for the impact of the fisheries. We need to hold them accountable.

    4. The fact is this, water runs California and those who manage water resources do not care about fisheries resources unless they have to due to state and federal ESA regulations. Bass are non native so there is no protective laws. In fact, water managers view recreation as a major hindrance to their operations, and if they had it their way no recreation of any type would be allowed on reservoirs. Thats the reality of it, and arguing the economics of the fisheries generally goes in one ear and out the other.

    5. Paste dam and otay are the worst for water quality out of the tap so I don’t know how this will compare. Helix is the better water quality or at least it used to be.

    6. WTF. That’s not good. San Diego City Lakes has some of the best if not the best Largemouth fishing in the world. And there letting it all go to shit. Not good at all…

    7. The city will realize it when all the revenue generated from local lakes takes a dump. All that extra cash that they haven’t been paying attention to will disappear and they will scratch their heads and wonder why they didn’t do something to prevent it.

    8. After all if it in not worth while to the lakes or city as a revenue stream why did Diamond Valley extend the ramp twice in times of drought so that private boats can launch on the lake. I think it is a major oversight on their part .

    9. So, where do we go from here? Do we try to obtain a lawyer? Do we sit at our computers and type disgruntled remarks and hope something changes?

    10. City of SD has always sucked in regards to local lakes (and every other way for that matter)! I’m sure they give exactly 2 fuc#s about Bass or bass fishing

    11. Avatar

      It’s not about bass it’s all about water and that’s pretty much all you will get from the suits. San Diego lakes use to be what everybody in the country talked about and now well, it’s Wednesday and Hodges is open and I don’t even care. SDFISH just did a two part story on Larry Bottrof so, talk to Larry. It would be interesting to hear what he has to say but, the reality is it’s all about water.