The City of Lake Elsinore was just notified by the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP) that Lake Elsinore contains toxins that exceed recommended recreational health thresholds caused by cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae.
PUBLIC SAFETY IS OUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY. AS A RESULT, LAKE ELSINORE IS OFFICIALLY CLOSED TO ANY AND ALL RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES INCLUDING BOATING UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
Blue-green algae is present in most freshwater and marine aquatic ecosystems. Excessive growth of blue-green algae can lead to algae blooms that can be harmful. The most recent samples of the lake showed high concentrations of cylindrospermopsin, anatoxin-a and microsystins, all of which can be considered dangerous at high levels and may cause harm to people, pets and livestock. Exposure to toxic algae can cause rashes, skin or eye irritation, allergic reactions or gastrointestinal problems, and can also be fatal to dogs.
Most recently, the lake suffered a severe algae bloom, which has likely caused the increase of concentrations of harmful toxins in the water. Algae blooms are common in Lake Elsinore and other natural water bodies around the country. As the algae dies off, toxins can be produced. Concerns regarding blue-green algae have been on the rise throughout the Country in recent years as evidenced by the recent closures of Pyramid Lake in Los Angeles County, Lake Temescal in Oakland, and Discovery Bay in the Delta.
The SCCWRP has been monitoring Lake Elsinore every other week due to the increasing concerns regarding Lake Elsinore due to the severe drought in Southern California and rapidly declining water levels.
As mentioned, public safety is our top priority. Therefore, the lake will remain closed until further notice. Additional sampling of the lake will take place on Monday and will continue weekly until the lake improves.
While it is extremely unfortunate that Lake Elsinore is in its current condition, there is little that can be done for Southern California’s largest natural freshwater lake. It is a natural lake that is reliant on rainfall. And, with little to no rainfall for the last five years, the lake is suffering. The City and the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District currently add more than 5 million gallons of water a day to the lake. But, it is not enough to sustain the 4 and one-half feet of water lost each year to evaporation. Without the recycled water, the lake would likely be 12 to 14 feet lower than it is today. Currently, the lake’s water level has fallen to its lowest level since early 1993.
The City will keep the community and our stakeholders informed about additional information as it becomes available.