Water level and habitat
For several years we have asked that a comprehensive study of the impact on habitat of rising lake levels be conducted. As programs are implemented to restore the Westside Basin aquifer the water level at Lake Merced will gradually increase. What will be the impact on shoreline habitat? And what, if any, mitigating actions are needed?A study of the effect of adding as much as 8' of water to the lake is now being conducted by the consulting firm EDAW. This study was commissioned by the City Attorney's office on behalf of the Public Utilities Commission, with little if any input from the Recreation and Park Department, the group responsible for this shoreline. There has also been little if any input from the community.Friends of Lake Merced, together with members of the Lake Merced Task Force Water Committee, has pointed out the urgency of halting the decline in lake level. Short-term measures are needed to 'stabilize the patient' while longer-term programs, such as the use of recycled water for golf course irrigation, have time to take effect. In an amazing piece of over-reaction, the PUC has proposed adding enough water to Lake Merced to raise lake levels by 8 feet this summer (2003), an action that could have dire environmental consequences.
We have written to Pat Martel, asking for greater public input.
This effort has taken some time. In July, 2001 Supervisor Mabel Teng wrote to tell us that the Board of Supervisors allocated $150,000 in the San Francisco PUC budget to resolve lake level and habitat issues. To date that money hasn't been spent, nor are there any plans to use these funds as intended. We've written to Tony Hall (2/6/01) asking that he act to free up that money.You can read a copy of the original resolution here.
Together with representatives of the Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, SPUR and a number of neighborhood organizations we put together a proposal as to how that money can be best used.
We do not believe that this is a serious threat, as the availability of that much water is quite doubtful. However, we do not want to ignore a proposal that could seriously divide the water restoration and habitat protection communities. We have requested a meeting to discuss a more rational approach; you can read our correspondence here.e-mail from Dick Morten, Lake Merced Task Force, to Michael Carlin, Planning Manger PUC, requesting information. (3/31/02)
Letter of reply from Michael to Dick Morten. Note that the prospect of adding as much as 8 ft. of water to Lake Merced is being considered. (05/13/02)
Letter to Pat Martel, General Manager PUC, requesting a meeting to discuss appropriate immediate actions designed to halt the decline of lake level. (05/20/02)
Discussion matrix, prepared by hydrologists Gus Yates and John Fio (with a little help!) outlining alternative approaches to restoring lake levels at Lake Merced. (Excel file)