Southern California’s largest natural freshwater lake, Lake Elsinore has been closed due to toxic water content from an algae bloom.
Like most lakes in southern California, Elsinore has been a victim of the prolonged and severe drought – reducing the lake to a depth of about 15 feet at most and leaving it vulnerable to algae growth. Not only are the toxins not safe for humans, but they can kill of a large sum of the fish population as well.
This serves as a grave glimpse of what may be on the horizon for several of San Diego’s best bass fisheries – specifically Lake Morena (2.5% capacity), Barrett Lake (5.8% capacity) and Lake Sutherland (7.8% capacity). Those three lakes were drawn down by the city of San Diego to historically low levels, and because they are “upstream” in the county’s water infrastructure pipelines, the only water they can receive falls from the sky.
And the worst is likely still to come, as Fall is when the water is the most tumultuous and prone to what we refer to as “Fall Turnover” – where the poorly oxygenated water at the bottom of the lake trades places with the more oxygenated water at the surface due to a changing of the seasons. That process can stir up bottom sediment, triggering decomposition of particulate matter, and triggering a rapid reduction of dissolved oxygen levels – killing off the fish.
These outer boundary reservoirs are in a precarious position, and whether or not they can survive until a rainy year replenishes them is up to Mother Nature, and her alone.
But going forward, the city of San Diego needs to set new standards of acceptable levels to draw these lakes down to, because once they take the water, they can’t put it back. And if there is one thing you can’t count on in southern California, it’s rain.
An online petition circulating right now on the website change.org is looking to pressure the city into doing just that. The petition, available here, asks the city to not draw the reservoirs below the 50% threshold by volume so that they can sustain themselves through the droughts, and continue to be enjoyed as the recreational jewels that they are in wet years.
The petition needs 20,000 signatures, and it’s gained just over 600 since it was launched a couple days ago. We ask anyone and everyone reading this to “sign” this petition, and pass it along to as many friends and acquaintances as possible so that it can reach that goal of 20,000. You don’t have to be a resident of San Diego County to sign it.
For more on the Lake Elsinore situation, check out the article below published by Press Enterprise.
Lake Elsinore has been shut down to all recreation because of a high concentration of harmful algae, officials announced Thursday, July 28.
Tests conducted by the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project determined that toxic substances in the lake “exceed recommended recreational health thresholds,” Lake Elsinore Senior Management Analyst Nicole Dailey said in a news release.