Toxic Algal Blooms in California Rivers Were Seen a Lot Less This Summer

As a beginner fisherman, Robert Allstead says he took up the sport partly because many around him kept telling him about their amazing fish stories.

“I didn’t have any to tell,” Allstead said. “I’ve got a couple now.”

Residents Complain San Diego Drinking Water Is ‘Stinky’ and ‘Smells Like Mold’

Earthy, musty smelling water coming out of faucets in some San Diego neighborhoods will be around for a couple more days — but city officials say it presents no safety issues.

Officials said the odd smell of the water comes from a naturally occurring organic compound called 2-methylisoborneol, or MIB — caused by algae blooms in reservoirs that tend to happen during hot weather.

Toxic Blue-Green Algae That Can Kill Dogs Spotted in California. How to Identify and Avoid It

With temperatures heating up, it might be tempting to take a dip in the river or let your dog dehydrate at the shore after a walk, but you might want to think twice.

Toxic blue-green algae, known for causing negative health effects in people and animals who’ve been exposed to it, has bloomed in central California at the San Luis Reservoir in Merced County, according to a release from Department of Water Resources on May 31.

Meadowlark Water Reclamation Facility employee Ivan Murguia monitors water quality. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Vallecitos Water District Recognized for Innovative Technology at Mahr Reservoir

The Vallecitos Water District received two awards for its innovative use of technology to reduce algae blooms at the Stanley A. Mahr Reservoir in San Marcos.

The district received the “Excellence in Action” award from the national WateReuse Association, and the “Innovation and Resiliency” award from the California Association of Sanitation Agencies, or CASA.

The WateReuse Association is the nation’s only trade association solely dedicated to advancing laws, policy, funding, and public acceptance of recycled water. CASA provides leadership, advocacy, and information to its members, legislators, and the public. CASA also promotes partnerships on clean water and beneficial reuse issues that protect public health and the environment.

Known for its sustainable practices in water and wastewater treatment processes without compromising water quality, Vallecitos Water District employs a new ultrasound technology to improve water quality at the Mahr Reservoir and reduce the need for chemical treatment.

“These awards are proof of the Vallecitos Water District’s commitment to innovation,” said Vallecitos Board President Mike Sannella. “District staff are to be commended for their efforts to use innovative technology to improve and enhance our operations.”

See video recognizing contribution of Vallecitos employees to award-winning projects

Algal blooms treated with sonic technology

Originally called La Costa Storage No. 1 Dam and Reservoir when completed in 1981, Mahr Reservoir was renamed after original founder and 35-year board member Stanley A. Mahr. It stores up to 54-million gallons of reclaimed water for irrigation use. Vallecitos Water District has contracts with the City of Carlsbad and Olivenhain Municipal Water District to provide as much as five million gallons of recycled water daily as needed.

The Mahr Reservoir stores up to 54 million gallons of reclaimed water to be used later for irrigation. Photo: Vallecitos Water District Recognized for Innovative Technology

The Mahr Reservoir stores up to 54 million gallons of reclaimed water to be used later for irrigation. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Because the reservoir’s location receives intense sunlight with little rain, algal blooms can occur in the nutrient-rich recycled water. Algal blooms are commonly treated with costly chemicals that are labor-intensive to apply. Vallecitos Water District uses technology developed by LG Sonic of the Netherlands. It provides a complete overview of reservoir water quality, allowing swift identification and treatment of algal blooms.

Every ten minutes, an MPC Buoy in the Mahr Reservoir measures and monitors green and blue-green algae population, pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, and water temperature. The data is collected in real time and uploaded online software, which uses the data to predict algal blooms three to ten days in advance.

Sound barrier limits algae

The LG Sonic buoy can create a sound barrier in the top water layer. It affects the algae buoyancy, preventing it from rising where it can absorb sunlight to grow. Starved of sunlight and nutrients, algae cells sink to deeper water where they degrade due to natural bacteria and do not release toxins into the water.

With overall algae levels reduced through sonic technology, the need for chemical treatment is also reduced. LG Sonic’s specific low-power ultrasonic transmitters emit signals which are not harmful to people, fish, plants, or other wildlife.

Vallecitos WD Uses Innovative Technology to Monitor Water Quality

The Vallecitos Water District is known for its sustainable practices in water and wastewater treatment processes, without any compromise in water quality. The district is now using a new ultrasound technology to address water quality at the Stanley A. Mahr Reservoir with a reduced need for chemical treatment. Mahr Reservoir was completed in 1981. Originally called La Costa Storage No. 1 Dam and Reservoir, it was renamed after the district’s original founder 35-year board member Stanley A. Mahr.

What is Causing Those Harmful Algal Blooms? Water and Heat

Weather conditions that make this a landmark year, like more rain, could be part of the reason for the algae blooms in Horseshoe Lake, putting the upper Bidwell Park lake off limits for use for the foreseeable future.

Swimming in the lake, for humans or dogs, is warned against, and new city signs say exposure to the algae can kill animals. Those who fish need to take special steps in preparing their catch.