OAKLAND (KRON) – City of Oakland Public Works began to clean Lake Merritt of fish corpses and other wildlife killed by a toxic algae bloom in recent days.
KRON4 first reported on the bloom when San Mateo County first sounded the alarm Aug. 24, warning children and pets to stay away from the water at Coyote Point.
By Aug. 29, the algae was killing fish all over the San Francisco Bay and in Lake Merritt.
“OPW [City of Oakland Public Works] staff is working in conjunction with regulatory agencies, including the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, to identify appropriate options to treat the area,” a press release sent Tuesday stated. “Contracted cleanup crews are scheduled to begin this work on the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 31. Crews will wear protective gear in an abundance of caution. Community members are asked to watch for signage and work crews/vehicles to enable these crews to perform this work.”
The results of water testing performed Aug. 22 will also be released, the press release stated.
The department stated it disapproves of speculation the bloom may be caused by sewer overflows.
“Recent media coverage of this event has included speculation that the cause of the fish die-off and/or the algae blooms might be increased sewer overflows into the lake,” the press release continued. “However, OPW has made significant progress in recent years improving sewer system infrastructure affecting the area and there have been no major recent overflow incidents affecting the lake.”
Toxic blooms can be caused by nitrogen and phosphorus from waste, stagnant water, increased temperatures, and low water flow, the press release continued.
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Avoiding overirrigating lawns with fertilizer can help reduce the amount of nutrients entering the region’s waterways.
“It is also important to note that algae is a normal and regularly occurring organism in Lake Merritt,” the press release stated. “Most summers the City employs an algae skimmer to harvest the larger concentrations of algae from the lake.”