Almaden Lake Cleanup Options Under Review

Water contains mercury from the historic Almaden Quicksilver Mines

Neighbors want to save Almaden Lake. The Santa Clara Valley Water District says it wants to save Almaden Lake. The only debate is over how to do that.

The problem is the creek that feeds Almaden Lake, Alamitos Creek, contains mercury from the historic Almaden Quicksilver Mines.

The water district is now studying several options to keep the mercury out of Almaden Lake.

One option is to build a canal through the middle of the lake to connect the Alamitos Creek directly to the Guadalupe River.  Another is to convert the lake into three separate lakes.

But other options would require the water district to fill in part of the lake with dirt, and that’s what opponents don’t want.

"We’re afraid some of it will become turf and we’ll lose our lake," said Bernadette Troyan, a homeowner who lives near the Almaden Lake. "We’re also afraid for our safety because the lake is used for fire protection."

"If we do nothing the regional water quality control board will come back to us with an abatement order," said Rechelle Blank, the water district’s project manager.

An abatement order would force the water district to find a solution immediately—with no time for debate.

An alternative plan, an oxygenation system pilot program, has pushed back the water district's timetable for determining the best option, Blank told the San Jose Mercury News. Feedback on that pilot program is expected in December.

The study team hopes to send the local board its recommendation in another year, after all studies are complete. 

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