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Watershed group will be testing Lake Almanor

This area near “Geritol Cove” on Lake Almanor is one of the locations that samples are taken for purposes of water quality testing. With reduced resources available from the California Department of Water Resources this vital testing will fall on the shoulders of the Lake Almanor Watershed Group in 2019 and maybe for several years to come. Photo by Gregg Scott

Terms like lake level, stratification, water temperature and oxygenation are not uncommon terms to many in the Almanor Basin.

Whether you’re a resort owner, fishing guide, boater or just a local resident that cares about the area you live in, those are probably terms you have used in a discussion about Lake Almanor.

At a recent meeting of the Lake Almanor Watershed Group (LAWG) and the Maidu Summit Consortium regarding shoreline planting, Aaron Seandel, long time resident and active LAWG member, presented an update on the water quality testing planned for this year.

Since 1993, the Lake Almanor community has been fortunate to have representatives from the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) assisting in the testing and assessment of the health of the lake and its tributaries.

The water samples to be tested are normally taken four times a year from eight to 13 locations around the lake.

The testers check for water temperature at the test location, dissolved oxygen, turbidity (amount of suspended matter in the water) and for various metals and minerals.

They also check for levels of phytoplankton (plants and algae) in the lake as well as zooplankton, basically food available for fish in the lake.

Past reports are available online at the Sierra Institute website. On the Community and Environment page, click on programs, then Lake Almanor Group, Resources, then Water Quality Reports.

With the advent of the recent fires in northern California, the CDWR has made a change in its resource priorities and funding.

As a result there will be limited resources available for testing Lake Almanor as those assets are being shifted to monitor the impact of the devastating fires, the closest of which is the Camp Fire, on the streams and aquifers in Butte County.

There has been little research done or available regarding the potential effects of urban wildfires, especially of this magnitude, on water quality in the county.

CDWR is anticipating several years of investigation to get a reasonable evaluation of the impact.

With these changes in mind LAWG is planning to continue the lake sampling in 2019, but at a reduced level.

Seandel said, “We see the lake as the jewel of Plumas County and the quality of life and economic vitality in our community depend on how we care for it.”

“We will be seeking help from the community to accomplish this,” he added.

There will be more information coming on how folks can help after the next LAWG meeting April 10.

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