Comprehensive Lake Update

This article was published in the Summer 2018 edition of Rancho Life magazine.

The Lago Santa Margarita has long been the focal point of the beautiful SAMLARC Community. It represents the serenity and quietude of the city and serves as a popular destination for family picnics, walks and recreation. Unfortunately, nature has invaded this perfect oasis. The Lake was infected by golden algae (Prymnesium parvum), an aggressive algae similar to the “red tide” occasionally seen at California’s beaches. Golden algae is a naturally occurring, single-celled organism that is frequenly found inhabiting lakes and rivers in coastal states. When provided the proper nutrients, golden algae produces a toxin, called prymnesin, which is lethal to gill-breathing organisms like fish. As a result, it is impossible to restock the Lake with appropriate fish species until the golden algae problem is resolved. To achieve that goal, SAMLARC has approved plans to begin the Lake Ecosystem Repair Project, a comprehensive construction project which will revitalize the Lake ecosystem and restore the Lago Santa Margarita to its former glory.

The project focuses on the root of the problem in addressing the golden algae crisis: poor water quality. Because the Lake is man-made, it lacks a natural water replacement system—like a stream or river—and in its current state is more akin to a puddle of standing water than a healthy aquatic ecosystem. The Lake Ecosystem Repair Project addresses this concern by creating a pump system to continuously replace 120,000 gallons of water in the Lake each day. This means that roughly every 250 days, the entire water volume of the Lake will be replaced. Performing this daily circulation will balance the nutrient content of the water, reduce its overall salinity, and maintain healthy fish and plants. Studies conducted on the toxicity of golden algae have confirmed that nutrient buildup is a leading cause of harmful algae blooms and subsequent fish kills. By creating a natural cycle of water i