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Environment and Energy

Laguna Lake restoration begins, expected to boost water quality and benefit recreation

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Courtesy: Keith Kidwell
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San Luis Obispo will dredge Laguna Lake to improve water quality and recreation.

The City of San Luis Obispo is beginning work next week to restore Laguna Lake after years of sediment buildup has impacted the water quality and the lake’s recreational usage.

As a part of the Laguna Lake Natural Reserve Conservation Plan, the city will start a two-week project in mid-September to dredge the lake.

Bob Hill is the Sustainability and Natural Resources official for San Luis Obispo. He said this restoration project has been decades in the making.

He said Perfumo Creek was rerouted into the lake in the 1960’s, causing a significant amount of sediment to build up.

“The project is to use a piece of dredging equipment — hydraulic dredging — to begin to start maintenance of the lake and to remove some of that sediment that’s built up over many years,” Hill said.

The city said the lake has seen toxic blue-green algae and has accumulated other naturally-occurring contaminants due to the sediment and runoff flowing into the lake.

Hill says the dredging will be done on an ongoing basis every other year with the goal of reducing these impacts and improving the overall state of the lake.

“The goal of that is to restore water quality, restore recreational uses of the lake such as boating and sailing and ultimately to improve habitat,” Hill said.

Hill said there are environmental impacts of dredging, but the city is in compliance with regulations set by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Hill said it’s taken years to set the conservation plan into action because of the need to acquire all of the necessary permits and raise the funding to make it happen.

“This particular first project is a little bit over $700,000 in total so it’s an expensive project,” Hill said. “Here at the city, we are now fortunate to be able to use revenue from our local sales tax Measure G.”

The city said there may be some temporary closures of holes at the disc golf course as well as some parking space closures. But the disc golf course, hiking trails, playground and dog park will all remain open.

Hill said the excess sediment removed from the lake will be used as daily cover at Cold Canyon Landfill.

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