Lake Elsinore closed due to algae contamination

On any given hot summer day you might have 40 or 50 boat trailers in the parking lot at La Laguna Recreational Area. Campsites around Lake Elsinore would be full. People would be laughing having lunch at a picnic table overlooking the lake. Not this weekend.

Blue-green algae has invaded the lake and because of the high concentration of it danger signs have been posted. The algae blooms have been deemed harmful because as they die off there are toxins. They can cause rashes, skin and eye problems, allergic reactions and gastrointestinal problems.

In an abundance of caution all lake-related activities have been shutdown. That's upsetting for the Hernandez family and their friends who come here every year. For ten years they've gotten lake view campsites. They arrived Wednesday. The kids were all excited about getting jet skis, but no-lake-time this trip for them or anyone else at the lake this weekend.

The city's public works director blames the drought. Dave Nichols says, "the lake level is the lowest its been in 23 years."

If it was completely full, he says, "You'd have cooler water. The agitation system would be more effective because of the surface differences between the surface and the bottom."

But, Daniel says, it is much lower. When the water heats up it evaporate faster. The lake, he says, is shrinking. It's 15 to 20 feet deep depending on where you're measuring as opposed to 35 feet deep."

Nichols says the algae may just have to die off. But, how long that will take is up to mother nature.

Lake Elsinore's Mayor Protem Bobby Magee is optimistic. He thinks the bloom is just a "hiccup" and the lake should be fine for swimming, boating and other water-related activities by next weekend. He says, "...we pump in 5 to 6-million gallons of fresh reclaimed water into our lake constantly replenishing.

We also have an aeration system. Five giant fans located in the water to circulate the water and you have 5 miles of underground piping that blow oxygen into the lake." Nichols says that's good for the fish.

Meanwhile, scientists are expected at the lake Monday morning to take more samples and get an update on its toxicity.


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