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Laguna Joaquin

The RMA and CSD are about to begin a three-day interim effort to improve Laguna Joaquin – a prelude to a full study of the lake, involving the community, this fall. (Click photos for larger images.)

Community organizations are about to undertake the biggest cleanup in Laguna Joaquin’s 45-year history, though the work will fall short of the often-heard request to drain the lake, muck it out and start over again.

The lake will be lowered about two feet next week, and a crew of six workers – three each from the Rancho Murieta Association and the Community Services District – will remove debris and organic matter from the newly exposed shoreline. After that’s done, the lake will be lowered again, probably leaving just a foot of water, and the workers will wade into the lake and pull out any debris possible.

Once that’s done, according to the plan, Laguna Joaquin will be refilled with fresh water from the Cosumnes River, which everyone hopes will improve the water clarity.

Warning to those who live around the lake: The work will probably result in nasty odors, and the plan is to let the piles of debris dry out before trying to haul them away – which means more nasty smells.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday morning, RMA and CSD representatives emphasized the project is a one-off, quick fix, made possible by this summer’s strong river flows. A full study of the lake, including community involvement, is still to come this fall, according to Ed Crouse, the CSD’s interim general manager.

The upcoming work – scheduled for completion in three days – was planned by the CSD, RMA and the Cosumnes Irrigation Association, a group of ranchers who park water in Laguna Joaquin so it can be used more effectively on their land. The irrigation association is commonly referred to as the CIA.

“Over the last few weeks, we have been meeting with representatives of the CIA, the CSD and our board and staff members, on measures that we believe will help improve the water quality of Laguna Joaquin,” Greg Vorster, RMA general manager, said in a statement.

Among the ideas being explored to improve the water quality is capturing summertime residential runoff – especially rich with nutrients, which feed algae and foul the lake – and piping it past Laguna Joaquin. Part of this would require an effort to educate the community about being prudent with herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers, Crouse said.


In this January 1975 photo, the Gazebo is the only structure visible on Laguna Joaquin. (Click photo for larger image.)

The CIA has been repairing and improving its irrigation ditch this summer. The ditch, parts of which date to the 1920s, runs from the river to ranches west of Rancho Murieta and feeds into Laguna Joaquin. The closing of the ditch this summer, to allow improvements, resulted in lower water levels at Laguna Joaquin and probably contributed to last month’s fish kill.

The ditch just reopened after another two-week closure for repairs, a closure that was not announced and apparently didn’t impact Laguna Joaquin levels.

At the moment, the ranches are getting all the water from the ditch, Crouse said, because once the cleanup work is done at Laguna Joaquin, the entire flow will be directed there. Filling the ranches’ ponds now will give them the water they need to get through the stretch when they’ll get no water, Crouse said.

One of the ranches, where organic crops are being grown, wasn’t happy with the quality of water coming out of Laguna Joaquin, Vorster said – probably the first time this particular complaint has been voiced.

“Without the ranchers, we don’t get water flowing through Laguna Joaquin,” Vorster said. “We rely upon them to ask for storage in the lake in order to have the authority to keep water in this lake the way we do. But the ranchers want cleaner water going to their crops.

“I think that’s where the relationship is. They want better quality water; better quality water is better for us. And so if we can produce better quality water for them, we win and they win.”

Crouse and Vorster said they endorsed RMA Director Larry Shelton’s suggestion to put 500 catfish and 500 bass into Laguna Joaquin. Young catfish would be stocked in the fall and bass would follow in the spring, after the catfish have grown to a size where they wouldn’t be eaten by the bass, they said.

As for dredging out the lake bottom, Crouse said, “I know that gets thrown out a lot (by Murietans), but I think in reality that’s going to be more difficult than anybody anticipates.” Added Vorster, “Probably millions of dollars, I would think, too.”

Mike Simas's picture
Joined: 03/21/2008
Posts: 50
Post rating: 49

Clay Bottom

Clay bottom will provide much-needed clarity to the water. Example: Pond on number sixteen south golf course.

Fred Kesich's picture
Joined: 09/30/2011
Posts: 20
Post rating: 39

I do believe the bottom is

I do believe the bottom is clay. That is the reason for the Turbidity. 


RM.com's picture
Joined: 06/19/2007
Posts: 27726
Post rating: 1387

Thanks to CIA for its contribution

The story neglected to include the news release's thanks for the effort contributed by the Cosumnes Irrigation Association, in particular Carol Anderson Ward, the Equestrian Center, Mark Shinkle and Leland Schneider.

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