THE CITY OF OAKLAND has installed a new aeration fountain at Lake Merritt to improve water quality and protect wildlife, city officials said Aug. 21. 

The fountain near the Pergola by 599 El Embarcadero mixes air into the water, helping to increase dissolved oxygen levels. Oakland authorities said this can help mitigate the effects of harmful algal blooms that can lead to fish kills.   

The fountain is part of the Lake Merritt Water Quality Management Pilot Project, which was initiated in response to a 2022 algal bloom that killed thousands of fish in the lake. The project also includes continuous water quality monitoring, a review of prior data, and a stakeholder engagement meeting.    

Oakland Public Works, the department responsible for maintaining and improving the city’s infrastructure, said a second device for increasing dissolved oxygen will be installed in the Glen Echo arm of the lake in early September. This device will sit on the bottom of the lake and will not be visible from the shore.

Also, department officials in a statement said they are hopeful the fountain will successfully in mitigating the effects of the algal blooms. However, they also say it is crucial to continue monitoring water quality and take other steps to protect the lake, such as reducing stormwater runoff and improving water circulation.  

The species of algae that caused the harmful algal blooms in 2022, Heterosigma akashiwo, was detected again in San Francisco Bay on Aug. 1 of this year. The recent bloom has largely dissipated, but city officials say it could reoccur as summer progresses and conditions change.

Charles is a Knight Foundation intern at Bay City News and a Master of Journalist candidate at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He freelanced for Oakland Side and Oakland North on race, equity, and health outcomes in the Bay Area. Before his graduate studies, Charles worked as a Business reporter in Ghana, West Africa, covering financial markets and rising startups. At Bay City News, he is interested in reporting on public health and the intersections of race and equity in the Bay Area.