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SLO Council Expected To OK Dredging Laguna Lake

Laguna Lake

Laguna Lake

September 22,2017-

Laguna Lake

Laguna Lake per Google Maps (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

After years of talking about it, the San Luis Obispo City Council is expected to approve a plan soon to do annual dredging of Laguna Lake starting next summer. An item for approval on the council’s routine consent calendar October 17, approves an environmental notice on the project says Robert Hill, the city’s Natural Resources Manager.

“It is just the first of many approvals before we go ahead” cautions Hill

The comparatively modest plan would spend $200,000 to $250,000 annually to remove 3000-4000 cubic feet of sediment by pontoon boat, without draining the lake.

“Our original idea”called for a far bigger effort to “remove 85,000 cubic feet at a potential cost of $12 to 14 million.”  Hill says this earlier plan, due to the hefty price tag as well as the current state of city finances, “is now considered infeasible.”

“We think we can do this under a maintenance regime” even though the shallow, recreational lake, has more than 30-years of sediment build-up. Estimates are an average of three inches of deposition are laid down each year.

Hill says dredging Laguna Lake should have multiple benefits.

-Enhancing the wildlife habitat at the lake with its 100 species of birds and fish. Avoiding shallow water warming that can lead to algae issues harmful to water quality, wildlife and even dogs.

-Keeping the recreational lake navigable for the public as well as  preserving the scenic qualities important to visitors and property owners.

Hill adds that two seasons ago the lake dried-up completely for the first time in history.But last winter the Laguna Hills watershed the feeds the lake, got 40 inches of rain, leading to an overflow through this last June that fed wetlands and thirsty rangeland downstream as well.

Runoff from the Prefumo Canyon, Sycamore Canyon, and Los Osos Valley watersheds, all drain to Laguna Lake.The 110 acre lake is full again.

The dredging activity next summer is expected to take only a few weeks and Hill says “it will be a learning experience we can build on” suggesting this will be an experiment, of sorts. He expects a contractor will do the work.

At least they finally think they found a way to keep this local amenity a lake. Somehow, ‘Laguna Marsh’ does not have the same ring.

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