Toxic algae, bacteria prompt East Bay lake closures

Friday, July 25, 2014
EMBED <>More Videos

Two popular East Bay swimming holes are shut down for the first time due to a rare toxic algae bloom and E.coli bacteria.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- With the weather warming up, two popular East Bay swimming holes have been forced to close. And you can blame it, in large part, on the drought.

There's plenty of water. But the problem is there is also plenty of algae. And that's not all. Another concern is E.coli bacteria.

It's happening at Lake Temescal in the Oakland Hills and Shadow Cliffs Lake in Pleasanton. For the first time, they've been shut down because of contamination.

Even the ducks didn't know what to make of all the yellow tape at Lake Temescal, where the water is clearly off-limits thanks to unusually high levels of toxins from blue-green algae blooms.

Some of those who came to cool off on a hot day didn't realize the lake was closed until they saw all the signs.

When asked if she thinks it's good that park officials closed the lake, sunbather Luiza Silva said, "Oh, definitely. I mean, if there's any danger, if it's not something we know all the implications of, of course it should be closed. Even though I'd rather be swimming."

This week's junior lifeguard camp has also been grounded; strictly dry land for at least the next few days.

Camper Maggie didn't seem too put off by the lake closure, saying, "The dry land stuff is fun, though."

"This week's theme, unfortunately, had to do with boats," said lifeguard instructor Neil Wraske. "So we can't get in the water, which is a problem. But we beef it up with other stuff like survival skills like making fire, water purification."

In Pleasanton, the south part of the beach at Shadow Cliffs Lake is also closed, but for a different reason.

There the issue is high levels of E.coli; a problem created in part by the drought, because the dead grass is no longer inviting for all the geese.

"The grass is brown," said Hal MacLean with East Bay Regional Parks. "Right now we're not watering the lawns, so that's an area where the geese would normally congregate. Now the geese are congregating at the beaches. And so goose feces and low water quality is an issue."

Anyone who ingests the water at either location could suffer skin irritation and flu-like symptoms.

There's no timetable yet for re-opening either beach.

Full list of parks with swimming facilities, click here.

Alternatives to Lake Temescal

1. Lake Anza at Tilden Regional Park

Lake Anza Road

off of Central Park Drive

Berkeley, CA 94708

2. Roberts Pool at Roberts Regional Recreation Area

10570 Skyline Blvd

Oakland, CA 94619

Alternatives to Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area

1. Castle Rock Recreation Area

1700 Castle Rock Road

Walnut Creek, CA 94598

2. Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area

2100 Isherwood Way

Fremont, CA 94536

3. Del Valle Regional Park

7000 Del Valle Road

Livermore, CA 94550

4. Cull Canyon Regional Recreation Area

18870 Cull Canyon Road

Castro Valley, CA 94546

(between Heyer Ave. & Columbia Dr.)