Repeated days of rains caused Canyon Lake’s Railroad Canyon Dam to spill over and send millions of gallons of water into Lake Elsinore. The water level has risen six feet since October, bringing Lake Elsinore to a water level of 1,244.85 feet, the highest since June 2012.
The high water level will be helpful for the summer when warm weather brings a higher probability of fish kills and algae blooms. Lake Elsinore is known to have improved water quality and a healthier ecology for the fishery whenever water levels are at or above the optimal lake level of 1,240 feet.
The Lake Elsinore & San Jacinto Watersheds Authority (LESJWA), an organization formed to improve water quality in the Lake Elsinore and San Jacinto watersheds, closely monitors and provides solutions for water quality for the impaired waterways in the watershed. Part of the monitoring includes preserving stability between runoff nutrients with a healthy water level.
“One of the reasons it’s critical to maintain a healthy lake level is due to nutrients and sediment that flow downstream into Lake Elsinore, which can impair water quality,” Mark Norton, LESJWA administrator, said. “While the rain and runoff are greatly needed in our local lakes, minimizing the nutrients that enter Canyon Lake and Lake Elsinore is critical.”
Lake Elsinore evaporates by approximately four and a half feet each year. As part of a partnership with the City of Lake Elsinore and Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District (EVMWD), five million gallons of highly treated recycled water is added to Lake Elsinore every day. This recycled water helps to offset about two and a half feet of the water lost due to evaporation. Heavy rains in April added much-needed water supply to the lake.
“This is great news for our community and our lake,” said Phil Williams, Chair of the LESJWA Board of Directors and Vice President of EVMWD Board of Directors. “The combination of recycled water and recent rain events are exactly what this thirsty lake needed.”
EVMWD regularly projects future water levels with and without recycled water. Based on the increased water levels, EVMWD estimates the lake will be able to stay at and above its optimal level of 1,240 feet for the next two years.
City officials stated that the lake is open, but visitors are required to adhere to social distancing guidelines and must use face coverings. The city is closely monitoring all activity and use of the lake. The city said it will be forced to close the lake if these guidelines are not being upheld and large crowds begin to gather.