Worried about the algae on Clear Lake? Well, we have come up with a solution that has worked really well here at the Featherbed Railroad. We just go in the pool!
No, really, Tony did think of a method for breaking up the algae mats off our beach.
It’s very simply a big rotary sprinkler along with a floating fountain that we operate with lake water. It may look funny to be “watering the lake” but in essence what we are really doing is aerating the mats and breaking them up. The newly-formed Thrive! Lake County group of business owners is interested in our idea, and are developing a contest to promote the idea to everyone around the lake! There is talk of a challenge involving lights and more - we might turn the natural beauty of Clear Lake into a haven for creative fountains!
What Causes the Algae?
Honestly, for many, many years Clear Lake was plagued by tailings from a mercury mine that was a legacy of the California Gold rush. Mercury is used in gold mining and we were one of the many sources in California. It used to be fashionable to just dump your excess pollutants in a nearby body of water and Clear Lake was that body of water.
The mercury mine closed in the early part of last century but the mercury stayed on, contaminating the fish and killing off plant life. What's more, the Army Corps of Engineers saw the marsh land at the north end of the Lake as an ideal place to create rice paddies. What they didn't know is that this was the Lake's natural filtration system.
Over time we've managed to clear out the mercury so now you can't take your temperature with Clear Lake's water, but the marsh land at the north end of the Lake is still in a state of flux. The Army Corps of Engineers is working to restore this marsh land, but doing any large project isn't as easy as it once was. Today, you not only have to consider all the environmental consequences, the land owners and everybody's attorneys.
The good news is, Clear Lake is no longer a polluted body of water. It's beautifully natural again. What that means; however, is that when you add plentiful sunshine to clear, fresh water you get plant life. Unfortunately the algae that is that plant life dies off and stinks up the place pretty badly.
The simple solution of sprinkling Lake water on top of the algae breaks up the algae and causes it to sink back into the Lake. The only environmental consequence of this is that we're running an electric pump to pump the water out of the Lake so we can sprinkle it back onto the Lake. If we put a solar panel on the pump house, even this won't be a factor any longer.