Fishing Derby postponed due to lake closure


For the first time in its 30-year tradition, the annual Kids Fishing Derby had to be postponed due to closure of the lake and uncertainty whether it would reopen before the weekend. Last Saturday’s Paddle & Pedal Regatta also was postponed at the last minute due to a notification from the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District late Friday afternoon that water tests indicated dangerous levels of cylindrospermopsin and cautionary levels of microcystins in Canyon Lake.

Senior Scientist, Dr. Meredith Howard of Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, was in close contact with the Association and the City of Canyon Lake to advise of test results and California’s suggested guidelines. The guidelines specify that the high concentrated level of cylindrospermopsin in the lake was “above the recreational action thresholds for human health” and considered in the “danger” zone (the most severe).

With toxin levels at those concentrations, the CLPOA and the City of Canyon Lake chose to close the lake to all body contact and recreation until further notice. The closure put a damper on the last weekend of summer before school started.

According to City Manger Aaron Palmer, signs warning of contaminated water were posted at 11 locations around the lake, and Operations closed the boat launch ramps in the Main Lake and East Bay. The City also sent out CodeRED notification to everyone on their list (see below) and the POA sent out text messages to all POA members who have signed up to receive text messages.

The word didn’t reach everyone because residents could still be seen skiing and fishing on the lake over the weekend. Community Patrol’s stated position on that (to at least one resident who asked) was, “The lake is closed – that’s our stand. But if you choose to go on the lake, we won’t stop you.”

The recommended “Danger Notice” for the high level of toxins states: “Danger, toxins from algae in these waters can harm people and kill pets and livestock. Stay out of the water until further notice. Do not touch scum in the water or on shore. Do not let pets or livestock drink or go into the water or go near the scum. Do not eat fish or shellfish from these waters. Do not use these waters for drinking or cooking. Boiling or filtering will not make the water safe. For people, the toxins can cause skin rashes, eye irritation diarrhea, vomiting. For animals, the toxins can cause diarrhea, vomiting, convulsions and death. Call your doctor or veterinarian if you or your pet get sick after going in the water.”

CyanoHAB Background

The website, states the following:

  • Cyanobacteria are present in most freshwater and marine aquatic ecosystems, and perform many roles that are vital for ecosystem health. When conditions are optimal, including light and temperature, levels of nutrients, and lack of water turbulence, cyanobacteria can quickly multiply into a bloom. Excessive growth of cyanobacteria leads to blooms, called cyanoHABs (harmful algal blooms), that can threaten or damage the environment, cause nuisance, and impact human, animal, and wildlife health.
  • CyanoHABs can produce large amounts of cyanotoxins, which can poison livestock, wildlife, and humans. Certain other types of cyanobacteria are nontoxic but can impart an unpleasant taste to water and fish as well as give off an unpleasant smell as they die and decay. Cyanotoxins pose risks to the health and safety of people and pets recreating in water bodies, eating fish, and drinking water.
  • When there is a cyanobacteria bloom, avoid body contact with the blooms, both in the water and in scum. This includes swimming, wading, water-skiing and other contact recreation. Do not let your pets drink or swim in the water. If one is going to consume fish from such waters, it is best to remove the internal organs.
  • While currently there are no state or federal standards for cyanoHABs with respect to recreational water or drinking water uses, California has developed guidance for recreational water bodies and U.S. EPA has developed guidance for drinking water.

CodeRed Notification System

The City of Canyon Lake reminded residents this week at, “With the recent closure of the lake due to contaminates, its extremely important that the City is capable of notifying our residents in a relatively quick manner when unforeseen emergencies occur.

“To help grow our City’s emergency notification database, with the most reliable information, we recommend our residents that have yet to, to sign up to the city’s CodeRED Notification System. This secured and customized notification system allows residents and businesses to add or update their contact information to ensure they will be included when an emergency or general message is sent out by the City via a phone call, email, or text (TDD/TTY requirements can be entered as well).

“To enroll, visit and click on the CodeRED image. We encourage our residents’ participation to help us create a more robust database, while taking advantage of this valuable notification service.”


About Author

Donna Ritchie