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DEAD FISH ALARM HOMEOWNERS; LAKE LINDERO SEES FATAL OXYGEN LOSS FOR 2 YEARS STRAIGHT.

Byline: Sonia Giordani Daily News Staff Writer

Thousands of dead fish have been removed from the waters of Lake Lindero this week, leaving homeowners and lake managers looking for a solution to what they fear could become an annual plight.

Despite regular monitoring of the water supply and the installation of an aeration system to pump additional oxygen into the lake, the massive fish die-off from oxygen deprivation was the second in two years, matching the one suffered by Lake Lindero last August.

``We have a problem we were hoping was a one-time thing after it happened last year,'' said Greg Feet, general manager for Golf Projects Lindero, which has managed the Lindero Canyon golf course, country club and lake since 1994.

``We realize now that this can happen any time we have a hot summer - which around here is usually,'' Feet said.

Golf Projects Lindero, working with the 459-member Lake Lindero Homeowners Association, plans on hiring a professional consultant to make recommendations to prevent the extreme depletion of oxygen in the water in future years.

``We will then solicit requests for proposals and decide what path to take to repair the problem,'' he said.

While Terry Miller, president of the 459-member Lake Lindero Homeowners Association, hailed Foot and the GPL team for ``working feverishly on the lake,'' a group of homeowners who live directly on the lake said GPL should be held accountable for failing to prevent eutrophication after last year's incident.

``We are pretty disgusted at the way the management handled the situation,'' said William Webber, a member of the Lake Lindero Home Owners Association who has lived on Lake Lindero for more than 17 years.

``The eutrophication of lakes and other bodies of water is a natural process. But if you want a lake to remain a lake, someone has to step in,'' said Webber, a retired engineer.

Thriving on the late-summer heat, thick blooms of algae spread through the lake depleting the water's oxygen supply in a matter of weeks. Known as eutrophication, the process has left thousands of the lake's freshwater fish - from the colorful Koi carp to the more familiar goldfish - starved and dead, and also created an noxious smell wafting through the neighborhood.

The process is a common occurrence in many man-made lakes, said Patrick Moore, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game.

The algae living at the surface of the water blooms with the natural sunlight through the day. Once the sun goes down, however, the organisms live on the dissolved oxygen in the lake water, leaving less oxygen for the fish to survive through the night, Moore said.

While the phenomenon is most common during the fall and spring seasons - when more algae is grown during the warm days and more oxygen is consumed in the lake during the cooler evening - some lakes suffer massive fish kills throughout the year, he said.

The Salton Sea, bordering Imperial and Riverside Counties, for instance, lies in a desert area, where warm days and cool evenings are common.

``It happens mostly in shallow water. The deeper lakes don't seem to have as many problems,'' Moore added.

According to Foot, in fact, Lake Lindero has grown more shallow over the course of its 30-year history, with more organic material lining its bottom and less water to support oxygen for the lake's fish.

Originally about 8 to 13 feet deep, the lake measures between 3 and 9 feet deep now, Foot said, with silt and fertilizer nutrients carried into the lake via Lindero Creek from construction projects and fresh lawns upstream.

Foot said that after 14 years, the lake would ideally be re-dredged. He added, however, that Golf Projects Lindero would not be liable for the cost of dredging the lake under an express provision of the contract the company worked out with the homeowners association in 1994.

After last year's August heat wave brought large algae blooms and left hundreds of fish dead, Golf Projects Lindero took some precautions, including contracting with Marine Biochemists, a water management company based in Anaheim, to monitor the lake's oxygen levels more frequently, Foot said.

Additionally, lake management teams installed emergency aeration pumps to boost oxygen levels in the lake after dead fish began to appear on the surface, he added.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 25, 1997
Words:714
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