Algae among issues in receding water at Tulare Lake

Kassandra Gutierrez Image
Friday, January 5, 2024
Algae among issues in receding water at Tulare Lake
Last year's historic rainfall also brought the return of Tulare Lake.

KINGS COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Last year's historic rainfall also brought the return of Tulare Lake.

At one point, it was close to 100,000 acres.

The water has been receding for months, and now, heading into another rainy season, the lake now covers just over 10,000 acres.

But this water isn't what comes to mind when you think of a lake.

"This water is coming from everywhere, it's taking debris in, it's coming from farms. We might have chemicals in those farms used for crops, or whatever it might be, so that's actually in the water as well," says Christopher Martin, a sergeant with the Kings County Sheriff's Office.

In recent months, the water has tested positive for E. Coli.

Hot summer weather also brought concerns about avian botulism.

This winter, dead fish and algae are visible.

"That's natural with stagnant water. We've tested the water in the past, and we found what's typical of flood waters. It's dirty. It's harmful," explained Abraham Valencia, a Kings County Officer Emergency Services Manager.

"As far as fish and wildlife in the area again, the cooler weather has really eased any concerns with botulism."

What was once productive farmland is now unusable.

The impact on the local agricultural industry is expected to top $200 million.

Farming won't happen for at least another year- and future crops will depend on the soil.

California's Office of Emergency Services says bacteria found in the waters are not an alarming concern as of now.

"It's not any different than any other flood waters that other counties saw, and so we don't, we don't expect that to be an issue. When it comes to replanting those areas," mentioned Abraham.

The Kings County Sheriff's Department urges people to avoid the waters.

"Even though the waters are receding, there are unforeseen items within the water. You can have anything from farm equipment to tires to pieces of building with sharp edges," described Sergeant Martin.

As we approach another El Nino pattern, the Office of Emergency Services urges people who live near possible flooding areas to have a go bag ready.

That should include important documents, medications, and an emergency safety plan in case of flooding and evacuations.

For tips on emergency preparedness, click here.

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