The warm, oxygen-depleted water in Lake Los Carneros puts local wildlife at risk and the Goleta City Council has voted to add water on a temporary basis.
Without a creek that runs into it, the lake relies on surface runoff and upward percolation from the groundwater below, but California’s severe drought has resulted in low lake levels, public works director Rosemarie Gaglione said.
The lake is 7-feet deep at the deepest point and temperatures are uniform throughout the lake, instead of having cooler spots at the bottom, she told the City Council last week.
That and the debris in the lake, which uses up oxygen, endangers fish and other wildlife. Migratory birds, which visit twice a year, could stop coming, Gaglione said.
Council members called the lake a jewel and a treasure, and they unanimously supported the attempt to help the ecosystem survive the drought.
Lake Los Carneros could potentially become a public health hazard if conditions continue, and the city will have to re-evaluate the situation after it adds water, Gaglione said.
“If there’s no rain this year, there are going to be casualties, and the lake may be one of them,” Councilman Tony Vallejo said.
Council members approved adding a temporary construction meter so the city can add water to the lake. Gaglione proposed adding 500,000 gallons at a time — which should raise the water level about a foot — and monitoring the progress.
The city can’t use reclaimed water but could start trucking in recycled water to use on medians, which would help offset the use of potable water in the lake.
Goleta is calling in the California Conservation Corps to remove dead tule reeds and other debris while levels are low. Local Native Americans will be contacted to see if they want the tule, Gaglione said.
Not counting some equipment and monthly fees, the operation will cost $10,576 for 1 million gallons of water from the Goleta Water District.