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 recent influx of seagulls to the lake has exacerbated the problem of nutrients, which result in oxygen consumption and algae blooms. The mercury contamination - along with bacteria from Canada goose waste - has contributed to the lake becoming the county's biggest water quality problem and since 2007, has been off limits to public use.
The latest: Water District launches new blog dedicated to Almaden Lake project
A new blog dedicated to the project is now live, allowing the general public to find information on upcoming meetings, the latest news and background on the project and feasible alternatives. Check out
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
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.