Water Issues and Drought
5:44 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Cleanup of dead fish coming soon for Laguna Lake neighbors

Rotting fish line the shore of Laguna Lake in San Luis Obispo.
Rotting fish line the shore of Laguna Lake in San Luis Obispo.
Credit Jessica Dieny

Dozens of dead fish can be seen lining the shores of San Luis Obispo's rapidly evaporating Laguna Lake, and when you're there in person, it doesn't take long before the smell of rotting fish hits you.

Along the shoreline of the shallow Laguna Lake are numerous fish at varying stages of decomposition. Local homeowner Phil Bonjour has a house overlooking what's left of the lake, and he says the area has become a complete disgrace.

"I refer to it as the Laguna Dump because it looks like--over on the other side of the lake--a dump, and it stinks," said Bonjour.

City biologist Freddy Otte says most of the fish are carp, an invasive species that's being killed off by decreased water and oxygen levels.

"So now that the lake has shrunk to probably less than 50 percent of its normal footprint, we have a large number of fish concentrated in a small pool, and you have dissolved oxygen levels that are at lethal levels" said Otte. "This is the response you're going to see, is fish starting to die."

The city announced Thursday afternoon that it will begin removing the fish this coming Monday and a trash cleanup will take place in September.

Otte says there is also a conservation plan in the works for Laguna Lake that would dredge the lake to increase capacity with use recycled water to manage surface levels.

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