Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The Santa Cruz Sentinel recently highlighted water quality problems at Watsonville’s Pinto Lake City Park. Patricia McQuade, who manages the Park, would like to spend her time holding fishing derbies, rowing contests, and taking children out for nature walks. Unfortunately, she says, “I’ve become a policeman, emergency tech, poison educator and paralegal. My employees and I spend our workday requiring people to sign legal documents and waivers, saying essentially, ‘I know I could get sick or die, but I still want to go out on the water.’”
Toxic algae blooms in Pinto Lake now make human contact with the lake dangerous for several months each year. Members of the recently formed group, Friends of Pinto Lake, attended a meeting of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board held last Thursday, expressing their “outrage” at the situation. It’s not only a quality of life issue, they said, with the loss of an incredibly wonderful recreational resource. It’s a public health issue, too.
The problems at Pinto Lake have been caused by past neglect of environmental limits. Past development has caused the problem. There may be a way to treat the waters of the Lake, to eliminate the toxins, but that is not yet clear, and such a solution will certainly be expensive. Looking forward, we need to make sure that our development projects don’t cause future problems. Your personal involvement in land use decision-making can really help!