May 23, 2014

Algae bloom in East Bay coves comes, then goes

By Sharon Rice, Editor, The Friday Flyer

Photos by Douglas Clark


On May 15, Douglas Clarke posted pictures on The Friday Flyer's Facebook page showing bright blue-green goo floating on the surface of Summer Cove. He asked, "What's wrong with my cove? It has a terrible ammonia-like scent that radiates not just from the dock but up to the house!"

He said that two days earlier he had Marine Patrol out for what appeared to be "an oily film, rainbow like in color." When Marine Patrol came a second time, Douglas says they told him it looked like blue-green algae. The Association's Operations Department also was contacted.

The Friday Flyer spoke with City Councilwoman Nancy Horton and Elsinore Valley Municipal Board Member Ben Wicke, a Canyon Lake resident, who both said they would go out in their boats to review the situation. Both are involved with the San Jacinto Watershed Authority (LESJWA), who has been working with Canyon Lake to help improve the quality of Canyon Lake's water in order to meet standards set by the state.

It's through the efforts of LESJWA that Canyon Lake has received the first two of five scheduled applications of alum to help eliminate phosphorus, a source of nutrition for algae.

This week, Operations determined it was an algae bloom and posted signs in the East Bay indicating the water is contaminated. However, by Wednesday evening, they saw the algae was mostly gone, and signs were expected to come down before people started heading out on the lake over the busy holiday weekend.

Mark Norton, the administrator for LESJWA, reported Wednesday that a sample of the algae was scheduled to be taken Friday, May 23, to determine the algae speciation and determine if there is a toxicity issue. However, after hearing from EVMWD Operations as well as Canyon Lake Marine Patrol late Wednesday, he learned the algae bloom appeared to have disappeared.

"Consequently, we will be holding off on the algae collection and speciation analysis for now, but will be ready to respond quickly to sample and analyze it the next time it occurs," he said.

"You should know that we are still 40 percent of the way into our multi-year alum project and it is improving the water quality, but we are not 100 percent there yet," Mark notes. "Further, there was a rainstorm that raised Canyon Lake 4 feet after the last alum application (in February), so nutrients and other constituents could have come into that lake from the upper watershed. There is no reason that our alum application could have caused the algae patch. It is also important to know that alum is not an algaecide and when applied does not kill algae but rather gradually reduces the food source of the algae."