Fixing Lost Lake may not be a lost cause. A $10,000 plan that proposes a solution to long-standing odor and algae problems at the drainage basin on the South gained support at the Community Services District's Improvements Committee and is headed to the CSD board for consideration. The committee also heard how the district is dealing with complaints about the community's drinking water.
A proposal from a contractor to improve conditions at Lost Lake calls for installing a fountain and four water diffusers for aeration, as well as adding beneficial bacteria to combat algae. Lake Solutions representative Mike McPherson attended the committee meeting last week to explain the proposal and answer questions from CSD directors and staff. McPherson said the plan would modify the ecosystem of the pond to treat the cause of its problems. General Manager Ed Crouse said the CSD is concerned about raising residents' expectations, since "it's first and foremost a detention basin."
A resident attending the meeting identified odors as the biggest issue with the basin and Director Steve Mobley responded emphatically, "It shouldn't stink." At the close of the hour-long discussion, Mobley recommended taking the plan to the board for consideration.
At the start of the meeting, Mark Pecotich, who has led a neighborhood effort to improve conditions at the basin, placed a plastic container on the table in front of the committee before he began his slide presentation. It contained green matter skimmed from the basin, he said.
In previous appearances at Rancho Murieta Association and CSD board meetings, Pecotich has emphasized the aesthetics of the basin. The Improvements Committee discussion centered on the functional aspects of the plan developed by Lake Solutions, a contractor that has been working with the residents. Even the fountain would be functional, not decorative, McPherson told the group.
The Lake Solutions plan would cost an estimated $9,516.60 to implement, and ongoing electrical operating costs are estimated at $1,370 per year.
According to a report by Paul Siebensohn, director of field operations, so far this year the CSD has spent over $4,000 on work at the basin, "roughly 3.2 percent of the drainage operating budget." The report appears in the meeting packet, which is available on the CSD web site, www.rmcsd.com.
Previous suggestions for the basin included creating a park-like setting at an estimated cost of $50,000.
Water taste, odor issues
The CSD is investigating different approaches to deal with residents' complaints about the taste and odor of the drinking water, General Manager Ed Crouse told the committee. The problem was triggered when water levels in Lake Chesbro were lowered due to repair work on the siphon between Calero and Chesbro, according to CSD staff. "We couldn't transfer water from Calero to Chesbro to keep it high like we normally do," Crouse said. "So when we kept lowering it, the weeds died off and imparted taste and odor."
To counteract that, at the beginning of the treatment process, CSD staff added powder activated carbon which attaches to the taste and odor compounds, Crouse said. Potassium permanganate is also used during the treatment process.
Crouse said the CSD checked with water suppliers in Folsom, Contra Costa County and other localities, and found "they are all experiencing algae. They all are using very similar products."
Recently, an ozone generator pilot test was done and "that really reduces taste and odor," Crouse said. The CSD is awaiting a proposal for its use, which Crouse cautioned is "very costly" since it uses electric power. "But, again, it would only be in times of need. It wouldn't be year-round," he added.
Director Jerry Pasek pointed out that the construction work may have contributed to the problem this year, but taste and odor complaints are common at this time of year. "It's been around forever," he said.
"We're bringing an engineer to look at water quality from a long-term perspective," Crouse said.