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What’s Going On with Arcadia’s Lake Baldwin?

Filamentous green algae can appear very similar to the harmful blue-green algae. – Courtesy photo

Part 4: What could have been a legitimate threat

By Galen Patterson

NOTE: This story has been changed from its original form.

Arcadia citizen Stan Raddon has lived across from the Los Angeles County Arboretum for 46 years. “I have watched the degradation of Lake Baldwin,” says Raddon.

Read Related: What’s Going on With Arcadia’s Lake Baldwin? Part 1

Raddon spent much of his professional life in the conversion of bio-mass into environmental fuel. Suffice it to say Raddon pays attention to natural cycles and how society can benefit from it while keeping the Earth intact. Raddon also pays attention to natural things that work against humans, in this case: green algae.

Lake Baldwin has large swaths of green algae covering what is left of the surface of Lake Baldwin. It may come as no surprise to see algae in a lake, but blue-green algae can be deadly to humans if it blooms. According to the National Ocean Service, a branch of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, less than one percent of algal blooms are toxic to humans.

Thankfully, arboretum CEO Richard Schulhof has had the algae tested and says that the algae is not of the blue-green variety, but instead is filamentous green algae, which is not toxic to humans. Filamentous green alagae can still have other effects on the eco system.

Algae slowly deplete the oxygen in water, block light from the life below the surface, and have been known to clog fish gills, resulting in death. This could become a problem if the pond is dredged, refilled and stocked with fish.

 

Read Related: What’s Going on With Arcadia’s Lake Baldwin? Part 2

Algae in smaller, more natural amounts can be tolerated, but the risk increases with the amount of algae, and the amount of algae increases with the right growing conditions. Currently, Lake Baldwin is an ideal harmful algae-growing location.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says algae, including the harmful variety, are commonly caused by a mixture of certain ingredients. The first is sunlight, which southern California has year-round in spades. The second is slow moving water, which is why most lakes tend to have a certain level of algae growth. The third ingredient is a combination of phosphorus and nitrogen.

Read Related: What’s Going on With Arcadia’s Lake Baldwin? Part 3

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) says both phosphorus and nitrogen are commonly found in fertilizer, manure, organic wastes and sewage. The excess rainwater from the yards of many San Gabriel Valley residents ends up in Lake Baldwin, bringing with them the fertilizer from their manicured lawns of cultured grass.

Los Angeles County has funds set aside for the removal of green algae, Lake Baldwin is not the only algal problem the county faces.

Four years ago, Raddon began working on a plan to bring Lake Baldwin back to life. While the specifics of his plan are still in the review and finalizing stages, Raddon is open about his intent to solve the problem in a way that everyone wins, this time, including the Tongva.

More on this story next week.

June 27, 2018

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Galen Patterson


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