This 32-acre man-made body of water, once a privately owned gravel quarry, progressively formed as a result of the quarry operation in the late 1940s. Excavation for the quarry started at the center of Los Alamitos Creek and moved outward, transforming a meadow where dairy cows grazed into a lake.
Almaden Lake lies wholly within Almaden Lake Park and was opened for public use as a park in 1982. The lake offered a range of activities over the years, including fishing, swimming, pedal boating and athletic events. Its sand beach enhanced its popularity, but despite its beauty, the lake offers no value other than aesthetics. It is one of the most polluted in the state, according to a two-year screening survey on contaminants in fish from the state’s lakes and reservoirs.
Elementary mercury from the mines settled at the bottom of Almaden Lake and converted to methylmercury, resulting in its designation as an impaired water body. Almaden as having a 2.15 parts per million methylmercury result for largemouth bass, a reading that is the highest result among lakes with mercury above .044 parts per million.
The water district has conducted numerous sediment removal and erosion repair projects along Alamitos Creek where it has title and easement and removed about 500 kilograms of mercury from the watershed, eliminating these sites as sources of mercury to the lake. However, upstream sources owned by private property owners and the county continue to discharge mercury to this lake.
Solar powered water-circulation machines known as solar bees (pictured at right) have helped prevent the harmful buildup of methylmercury in stagnant water at the bottom of the lake, but not to the extent needed to reduce mercury in fish. The geese and seagulls at the lake has exacerbated the problem of nutrients, which result in oxygen consumption and algae blooms. The mercury contamination - along with bacteria from the bird waste - has contributed to the lake's water quality problems.
Water District postpones Oct. 3 meeting
The project team had scheduled its next public meeting for Thursday, Oct. 3 at the Almaden Community Center, but is postponing it due to expressed concerns that scheduling conflicts with the San José Unified School District’s fall break would prevent a large number of parents from attending. A new date is being studied.
Sept. 5 meeting video and power point here
You can review the power point presentation from the district's Sept. 5 meeting by clicking the link below. At that meeting, the project team reviewed the hydraulic analysis for the restored creek connection and addressed the ongoing oxygenation pilot project at the Calero and Stevens Creek reservoirs that could determine new alternatives for addressing mercury methylation at the lake.
Blog racks up hits
The water district blog on the Almaden Lake project is proving popular with the community. Since launching in March, it has racked up more than 8,000 views, with as many as 3,347 reads in one day. Check out Let's Talk About Almaden Lake and see what all the buzz is about. Subscribe for free to get alerts whenever the water district posts information.
Also: Check out the latest Project Fact Sheet [August 2013, PDF]
Review feasible alternatives:
- Channel with East and West Lakes
- Channel with West Lake and Open Space
- Channel with East Lake and Wetland Planting Area - Eliminated due to mosquito nuisance concerns.
- Channel with East Lake and Open Space
- Channel with Open Space
- No Project
Also, review the chart that can be found by clicking here, a matrix of Feasible Alternatives that includes the cost for each alternative. These are the most up-to-date figures since the March 13 meeting when the alternatives were first presented.
The water district has made no decision on which alternative to pursue for Almaden Lake and continues to review community input. It will keep the community informed on its progress and especially when it will present a recommended alternative to the board of directors, which has the final say in which direction the project will proceed.
The project team looks forward to meeting with neighborhood associations and other community groups to review the feasible alternatives in greater detail. If you would like your group to host the project team, please contact your neighborhood liaison Tony Mercado at 408-630-2342. The team is tentatively looking at a fourth meeting this fall.
For more information about this project, contact Rechelle Blank at (408) 630-2615.