While on his daily walk near California State University Stanislaus on July 4th, a local resident, who wished to remain anonymous, noticed an unusual sight at the on-campus Sequoia Lake near Crowell Road. The lake had been drained, due to a safety concern, leaving behind tens of dead fish.
“So many children and adults were staring at disbelief at the scene,” he stated. “Maybe it will scar peoples’ memories of such a pretty place.”
The lake had been drained due to a safety concern, as the artificial curb bordering the lake had erosion beneath it, causing the curb to deteriorate and crumble away. The University put forth every effort to protect the species in the lake before the drainage occurred.
“It was creating a safety issue for people,” stated Dave Tonelli, Associate Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs at the University. “A lot of people go there for weddings or photos, so we had to find a spot in the month to sneak it in between events.”
The University started the draining process on the 2nd of July and began relocating many of the fish and turtles that resided in Sequoia Lake to other ponds across campus. Tonelli reported that although hundreds of fish had been caught with nets and relocated before the lake had been completely drained, not all of them could be saved, leaving behind approximately 30-50 fish.
“As the water continued to get lower, it became more difficult to reach all of the fish, particularly the ones near the middle of the lake due to the water and sludge,” stated Tonelli. “We did the best we could to relocate the fish and turtles to the other ponds on campus.”
A majority of the fish that reside in the Sequoia Lake are Carp fish, however, none of these fish or any other animals were placed there by the University. Third parties have dumped their own pet fish and turtles in the lake over the past 12 years since it was first created.
“When the lake is over 12 years old, you get a growth in the population,” stated Tonelli.
Tonelli also reported that staff had picked up the dead fish on the 5th of July, and that unfortunately the only day that people may have witnessed the fish was the 4th due to the holiday, as the campus was closed.
The lake has been completely drained and construction is currently taking place on repairing the shoreline and rocks. The project should be completed, and the lake refilled, by the end of the month.