Golden algae a concern, won't close Ascarate Lake

Commissioners ask whether lake is safe

EL PASO, Texas - El Paso's Ascarate Lake is open.

That's the message county commissioners made clear during public comment on Monday morning.

Commissioner Sergio Lewis said a newspaper article stirred concern among people in his district. During Monday's El Paso County Commissioners meeting, it was stressed that only the Commmissioners Court can close the lake, a move they haven't made.

The concerns were raised because of a second sighting of golden algae in Ascarate Lake.

"Are we concerned, yes," said Ernie Carrizal, the El Paso County Public Works director, adding that he doesn't believe it's enough concern to shutdown the park.

Two weeks ago roughly 12 fish were found dead in the lake. So far this year nearly 50 fish have been found dead, but a bout with golden algae two years ago left five times that amount of fish dead.

Texas Parks and Wildlife employees appeared in court to assure commissioners that the fish are safe to eat that are currently in Ascarate lake, but said people shouldn't eat any fish they found floating in the lake.

The golden algae, while not enough of a concern to shutdown the lake, did lead to the cancellation of a fish drop by Texas Parks and Wildlife in February. Two other fish drops took place in December and January.

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