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Councilmembers Godden, O’Brien Announce Accelerated Green Lake Algae Cleanup

City of Seattle
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 11/20/2014

Councilmembers Godden, O’Brien Announce Accelerated Green Lake Algae Cleanup

SEATTLE – Councilmembers Jean Godden and Mike O’Brien announced today that funding was unanimously recommended by the Council’s Budget Committee to accelerate cleanup of toxic algae that has bloomed at Green Lake over the past several summers, which has required temporary lake closures. Councilmember Godden and O’Brien’s proposal will allow Green Lake to remain open and free of toxic algae in time for summer of 2016, a full year sooner than anticipated.

“The dedicated advocacy from Green Lake neighbors brought this issue front-and-center to Councilmembers’ minds. It’s thanks to them that we are stepping up the City’s treatment efforts to ensure a safe lake for summer swims and other recreation in 2016,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien.

By accelerating the funding by a year, the Department of Parks and Recreation will be able to move forward with necessary water quality testing and permitting from the Department of Ecology over 2015, which is required before treatment can begin. Alum treatment, which can only be done in warmer weather, will be conducted in April 2016. The reallocated funds, totaling $300,000, use Real Estate Excise Tax funds which are exclusively dedicated for the City’s capital improvements, unlike the City’s General Fund.

“Green Lake is one of Seattle’s most precious gems and deserves our stewardship,” said Councilmember Jean Godden. “I am happy to have partnered with Green Lake neighbors and my colleagues to accelerate the cleanup.”

The blue-green algae present in Green Lake throughout the year becomes toxic when warm weather and more activity in the lake stir up phosphorus sediments from the bottom of the lake and other nutrients that the algae feed on. In these seasonal conditions, the algae blooms grow and become toxic to people and pets who swim in the lake. Treating the lake with alum will inactivate the phosphorous, taking away the algae’s primary food source. The algae blooms can return in the future, however, as more phosphorous is deposited into the lake, which occurs as a result of stormwater runoff and fertilizer runoff from neighboring lawns. A 2011 Washington State law prohibits the use of fertilizers containing phosphorus to treat lawns, and Councilmembers encourage all residents to be mindful of the type of fertilizer they use for sake of the long-term health of Green Lake and other bodies of water in and around Seattle.

The Green Lake proposal was approved by the Council Budget Committee by a vote of 9-0. Full Council is scheduled to vote on the Budget Committee’s recommendation on Monday, November 24. Council and Parks continue to explore what options may exist for keeping Green Lake open in 2015 as well.

[View in Council Newsroom]

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