Sick lake needs help

A public meeting on the future of Virginia Lake is planned at which city officials will brief the public on problems and the public can be heard.

The lake is suffering from toxicity caused by high nutrient enrichment and a lack of flows that cause “dead spots.” Cormorants and gulls are particularly suspected of fostering toxins because of their high fish diet, which reenters the lake as excrement.

Blue green algae, which creates toxins that are hazardous to birds, fish and mammals, is one result. In addition, it's more than just the lake that is damaged. The watershed is also harmed by water that flows through the lake into Steamboat Creek, Boynton Slough and the Truckee River, picking up toxins on its way.

The lake was created by the New Deal's Works Progress Administration in 1937. It was designed for swimming and wading with an average depth of five and a half feet. It covers 24.5 acres and is fed by the Cochran Ditch, which enters at the northwest corner. The Nevada Legislature passed control of the lake and other WPA projects to Washoe County in 1939. The lake is now managed by the city of Reno.

The meeting will be held at Thursday, Sept. 18, starting at 5:30 at Swill Coffee, 3366 Lakeside Drive.