Adding just enough water to Atascadero Lake to offset evaporation is more than ornamental; it’s crucial to our wildfire safety. It will keep the lake deep enough for Cal Fire copters, which have used it to save homes in North County fires, most notably 1994’s 45,000-acre Highway 41 fire.
In that year’s hot August wind, four of us, including a councilman, cheered from the ridge above the lake as copters repeatedly filled their buckets to stave off the wall of fire advancing toward the woodland/ housing interface that comprises Atascadero.
As little water as Atascadero residents use in 8 hours, just enough water to keep Atascadero Lake cool and fresh — and West Nile mosquitoes at bay, will make us ready for next winter’s rains.
Supplementing recently piped Atascadero Creek water with fractured shale water honors the long county/Atascadero tradition of lakeside wells to combat stagnation in summer’s heat. And it doesn’t take basin water.
Besides fire safety and mosquito abatement, clear, stable water in our only public lake is a powerful boost to all Atascaderans. Our lake is a community touchstone, a mirror of our self-image.
It’s hardly careless to keep Atascadero Lake from drying out again; it’s vital.