Jul 12, 2013 6:33 PM by Keli Moore, KSBY News

Atascadero Lake causes a stink

There are signs of a poor rain year all over the Central Coast. The impacts range from high fire danger because of dry vegetation to water levels dropping at area lakes.

Atascadero Lake is causing a stink after its water levels began dropping half an inch per day. City officials say it's only 40% full.

Regardless of its water level, many head to the lake to enjoy some time in the great outdoors.

"We do everything professionally here," said John Fagrell while teaching his granddaughters a painting lesson. "Don't forget to put sharp lines next to these things or they won't be defined very well."

Their backdrop was Atascadero Lake.

"What happened to the lake? There is no water in it. And if you drive a little farther and oh what is that smell?" said John Fagrell, who frequests Atascadero Lake.

The family decided to paint on the west side of the lake where they say it's less smelly.

"It smells like a dirty lake, it smells like duck doo-doo," said Fagrell.

The east side is where water levels are the lowest.

"Each summer as the water warms up there is a blue-green algae bloom and when it dies off it starts decomposing on the bottom of the lake and that sucks the air out of the lake and causes for the fish and leads to odor problems," said Russ Thompson, Public Works Director for Atascadero.

He said problems will only get worse as North County continues to heat up.

"Water levels are going to continue to drop through the summer probably several more feet," he said.

Right now the depth in the center is about 6 feet, but two years ago it was 13 feet deep.

"It's a natural process, but we are planning some projects we hope will improve the lake water quality and reduce some of those odor issues," said Thompson.

Eight years ago the city put a solar powered fountain in the middle of the lake.

"It's more of circulating pump -- it helps keep the water moving. It helps right there, but we would need several more to do the job better," said Thompson.

And for this family and many others they hope that will happen soon.

The city council has approved spending $10,000 on four aerating fountains, which will keep the water circulating.

Atascadero's public works staff will install the fountains within the next two weeks.



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