New fountain at Lake Merritt takes aim at algae

A new aeration fountain has been installed at Lake Merritt to improve water quality and protect wildlife (City of Oakland via Bay City News)

The city of Oakland has installed a new aeration fountain at Lake Merritt to improve water quality and protect wildlife, city officials said Monday.

The fountain near the Pergola by 599 El Embarcadero mixes air into the water, which helps increase dissolved oxygen levels. Oakland authorities said this can help mitigate the effects of harmful algal blooms that can lead to fish kills.

The fountain is part of the Lake Merritt Water Quality Management Pilot Project, which was initiated in response to a 2022 algal bloom that killed thousands of fish in the lake. The project also includes continuous water quality monitoring, a review of prior data, and a stakeholder engagement meeting.

A second aeration device will be installed in September, near the intersection of Grand and Harrison avenues, according to a City of Oakland news release. It will rest on the lake floor and won’t be visible from shore.

Department officials said they are hopeful the fountain will successfully in mitigating the effects of the algal blooms. However, they also noted the importance of continuing to monitor water quality and taking other steps to protect the lake, such as reducing stormwater runoff and improving water circulation.

The species of algae that caused the harmful algal blooms in 2022, Heterosigma akashiwo, was detected again in San Francisco Bay on Aug. 1 of this year. The recent bloom has largely dissipated, but city officials say it could reoccur as summer progresses and conditions change.

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