East Bay alum isn’t as successful as hoped


The Aquatechnex boats were back on the lake April 9 and 10 to spray alum in the main channel and coves of the East Bay. Unfortunately, the desired results (reduced algae and greater water clarity) haven’t been evident to casual observers.

According to spokesperson Mark Norton, water resources and planning manager for the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA), water officials had not yet received the water quality analysis from pre and post monitoring of the East Bay prior to his commenting; however, based on recent photos, Norton says, “It appears the nutrient levels still remain persistently high enough to result in algae blooms in the East Bay coves, despite the recent alum application.”

Norton notes that officials also did not see a difference in Gold Cove, where a higher dose of alum was tested. “The primary cause of the algae blooms remain due to the stagnant water conditions in the coves,” he says. “The alum applied to the East Bay on April 9th and 10th was not the cause of the blooms. Algae blooms can occur quickly and subside quickly, in some cases within 24 hours.”

After looking at photos provided by CLPOA staff and by a resident, Norton said it looked as if the severity of the algae growth is gradually subsiding.

Resident Deric Krist, the resident who sent in photos from his cove, says, “I can tell you from being here every day that it (severity of algae growth) is not subsiding; however, it does appear to get better throughout the day as the current rolls through from the winds. Nonetheless, it is just as bad if not worse the next morning . . . I love Canyon Lake and everything about living here. I just wish the water conditions matched the beauty of its surroundings.”

Norton says, “Once we receive the pre and post monitoring, the Canyon Lake Alum Application Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), which includes staff representatives from Canyon Lake POA, City of Canyon Lake, EVMWD, LESJWA, RCFCWCD and several lake experts, will review the lab results as they have previously for all earlier alum applications and determine the best strategy for the fifth alum application set for September 2015.”

He added, “The use of algaecides have been considered for control for the East Bay by the TAC but have not been supported at this time due to the resilient nature of algae growth that would require multiple applications to control and the significant expense to pay for multiple algaecide applications.”

But the Technical Advisory Committee is optimistic about the benefits of alum in the Main Lake, which, for the most part, “has improved dramatically resulting in less algae growth and remarkably improved lake water clarity.”

The Alum Project is being funded by a state grant and by the Lake Elsinore and Canyon Lake Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Task Force, which consists of cities, the County of Riverside, agriculture and dairy coalitions and other organizations in the San Jacinto River watershed.

Implementation of the Alum Project is being coordinated by the City of Canyon Lake, the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District, LESJWA, the TMDL Task Force and the Canyon Lake Property Owners Association.

According to water experts, alum is a naturally occurring mineral that is safe for humans and marine life, binds with phosphorus and sinks to the bottom of the lake, becoming part of the lake sediment. Because phosphorus is a critical element needed for algae to bloom, alum generally helps reduce algae production.


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Donna Ritchie