Can’t You Smell That Smell?

Bird Refuge Lake Stinks Up Summer Air

Warm weather and a lack of rain have combined to created the sulfuric, rotten egg stench has been emanating from near East Cabrillo Boulevard and Highway 101 for at least a week, said city officials. The 29-acre freshwater lake in the Andree Clark Bird Refuge usually starts to stink around the hotter months of the year, although this year the troublesome tang is a little more intense due to the lack of rainfall, said city assistant parks and recreation director Jill Zachary. The lake’s only source is rainwater and storm runoff. With the lack of rain over the last few months, the water in the lake hasn’t circulated well, causing the sediment and algae gathered in the lake to accumulate and stink. “We usually hope we get enough rain,” Zachary said.

The city has added fresh water as a short-term solution. The park and recreation department started pouring potable water into the lake on July 6, and since then have added about three million gallons of water.

The city has been grappling with what to do with the bird refuge for decades. In past years, the city has spent between $20,000 and $30,000 to solve the stink, or at least offset its intensity. But a longer term solution is needed, Zachary said, and the city is looking into developing technology which could make the problem go away altogether.

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