Lake Elsinore and Canyon Lake TMDL Task Force

In 2005, stakeholders formed the Lake Elsinore & Canyon Lake TMDL Task Force (Task Force). This Task Force, administered by LESJWA provides stakeholders an opportunity to coordinate and share the cost of all implementation efforts. The Task Force is comprised of all the dischargers identified in the TDML, including: Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permittees, wastewater treatment plants, agricultural operators, concentrated animal feeding operations (dairies), and a number of other state, federal, or tribal agencies that own land or operate facilities that discharge in the watershed.

Lake Elsinore first appeared on California’s 303(d) list of impaired waterbodies in 1994. Canyon Lake was added to that list in 1998. The lakes were deemed to be impaired by low dissolved oxygen (DO) levels and excess algae growth. Elevated nutrient concentrations (e.g., phosphorus and nitrogen) were cited as the primary cause of poor water quality in both lakes.

The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for nutrient discharges to Canyon Lake and Lake Elsinore in 2004. The TMDL became effective when the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave it final approval on September 30, 2005. The scientific data and analysis used to justify the TMDL is summarized in a detailed technical support document prepared by the Regional Board staff.

The TMDL specified numeric targets for DO, Chlorophyll a, Ammonia, Total Phosphorus (TP) and Total Nitrogen (TN) concentrations in both lakes. It also established Load Allocations (LA) and Waste Load Allocations (WLA) to govern the discharge of excess nutrients from non-point sources and point sources, respectively.

The TMDL includes a detailed Implementation Plan which describes a variety of activities that must be undertaken to meet water quality standards in Canyon Lake and Lake Elsinore. In the decade following EPA’s approval, stakeholders throughout the watershed initiated a large number of programs and projects to comply with the requirements set forth in the TMDL Implementation Plan.

Copies of Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board Resolution No. R8-2004-0037 and TMDL Technical Document prepared by Board staff , as well as, deliverables submitted to the Board by Task Force stakeholders are available on the Regional Board Lake Elsinore and Canyon Lake webpage.

Since December of 2004, SAWPA/LESJWA staff has been working closely with Stakeholders and Regional Board staff to address the requirements of the Basin Plan Amendment to implement the Lake Elsinore and Canyon Lake nutrient TMDLs.

In June 2005, the LESJWA Board authorized staff to serve administrator of the Lake Elsinore and Canyon Lake TMDL Task Force. In its role as administrator of the Task Force, LESJWA staff provides the following services:

  • a. Organize and facilitate TMDL TASK FORCE and TAC meetings,
  • b. Perform secretarial, clerical and administrative services, including providing meeting summaries to TMDL TASK FORCE members,
  • c. Manage TMDL TASK FORCE funds and prepare annual reports of TMDL TASK FORCE assets and expenditures,
  • d. Serve as the contracting party, for the benefit of the TMDL TASK FORCE, for contracts with all consultants, contractors, vendors and other entities,
  • e. Seek funding grants to assist with achieving goals and objectives of the TMDL TASK FORCE.
  • f. Coordinate with other agencies and organizations as necessary to facilitate TMDL TASK FORCE work.
  • g. Administer the preparation of quarterly and annual reports, as required by the TMDL Implementation Plan, and submit them as required by the TMDL Implementation Plan on behalf of the TMDL TASK FORCE.
  • h. Administrator of agreements to market and administer limited-used licenses for any excess offset credits generated by TMDL Best Management Practice implementation projects.

Agendas and Meeting Materials

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November 28, 2023


Presentation 1

Handout 1

October 26, 2023


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Presentation 1 Presentation 2

August 7, 2023


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Presentation 1

Handout 1

June 5, 2023


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April 25, 2023


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March 28, 2023


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February 15, 2023


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January 10, 2023


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April 16AgendaMeeting NotesHandouts
February 11AgendaMeeting NotesHandouts
January 14AgendaMeeting NotesHandouts

September 19AgendaMeeting NotesHandouts
August 21AgendaMeeting NotesHandouts
June 18AgendaMeeting NotesHandouts
May 21AgendaMeeting NotesHandouts
April 23AgendaMeeting NotesHandouts
March 27AgendaMeeting NotesHandouts
February 14AgendaMeeting NotesHandouts
January 23AgendaMeeting NotesHandouts

Technical Advisory Committee: Agendas & Meeting Materials

June 16Agenda

February 19AgendaMeeting Notes

December 12AgendaMeeting Notes


Final Lake Elsinore Fisheries Management Report – September 2020

Lake Elsinore Fisheries Management Work Plan and Quality Assurance Project Plan (August 2019)

Lake Elsinore & San Jacinto Watersheds Authority – Lake Elsinore Stabilization & Enhancement Project Final Program Environmental Impact Report

Compliance Assessment for 2015 Interim Response Targets in LE&CL TMDL – Final ReptDraft Interim Compliance Report for LE&CL TMDLFinal FY 2014-15 LE/CL TMDL Annual Water Quality Report

Final FY 2013-14 LE/CL TMDL Annual Water Quality Report

Draft LE/CL TMDL Comprehensive Phase 2 Compliance Monitoring Program Framework

Comprehensive Nutrient Reduction Plan – CDM Smith

Proposed Alum Applications Will Not Cause Toxicity to Fish or Other Aquatic Organisms in Canyon Lake or Lake Elsinore – Risk Sciences

Canyon Lake Hybrid Treatment Project – (Funded in part by Proposition 84 Grant)

Jar Test Study on the Use of Alum for Turbidity and Nutrient removal in Canyon Lake, CA (California State University – San Bernardino) – Final Report December 2012

San Jacinto River Watershed Nutrient TMDL BMP Implementation Project (Funded by Proposition 40 Grant) – Final Report December 2012

Canyon Lake Hypolimnetic Oxygenation System Preliminary Design Phase I Report – Final Report April 2011

Lake Elsinore Recharge Pipeline Project – Completed October 2010 (Funded by Proposition 40 Grant)

Lake Elsinore 3D Modeling Tool (ReMetrix)

3D Resource Management Tool for Lake Elsinore Documentation – October 2010

Satellite Imagery Analysis (Aquatechnex)

Lake Elsinore and Canyon Lake Chlorophyll-a – July 2010

Lake Elsinore Satellite Scans – July 2010

Lake Elsinore Total Phosphorus Water Satellite Scans – July 2010

Canyon Lake Total Phosphorus Water Satellite Scans – July 2010

Lake Elsinore Surface Area and Volume Table – July 2010

Bathymetry & Sediment Study Final Report

Bathymetry & Sediment Study -September 2010

Canyon Lake Bacteria Characterization Report – Final Report December 2009

Assessment of Water Quality Concentration and Loads from Natural Landscapes (SCCWRP) – Final Report February 2007

Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Survey of Canyon Lake – Final Report July 2004

San Jacinto Nutrient Management Plan (Funded by Proposition 13) – Final Report April 2004

Lake Elsinore and Canyon Lake Nutrient Source Assessment (Tetra Tech – Watershed Model) – Final Report January 2003

Lake Elsinore and Canyon Lake are located in the southwestern portion of the 780 square-mile San Jacinto watershed approximately 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Most of the San Jacinto River watershed falls within Riverside County; however, a small western section is located in Orange County.

Flow to the San Jacinto River begins in the San Jacinto Mountains, then travels northwest along the San Jacinto fault zone. The river then flows through Canyon Lake and exits the Perris Block into the lower Elsinore Basin created by the Elsinore fault zone. Canyon Lake is located near the watershed outlet and was formed by the damming of the San Jacinto River. Runoff from as far as Moreno Valley, San Jacinto, Hemet, and Perris contribute to surface flows that reach Canyon Lake during rainfall events. Over 90 percent of the San Jacinto watershed drains to Canyon Lake. During normal dry periods, the San Jacinto River is essentially dry, contributing little or no flow to Canyon Lake. Lake Elsinore is located approximately 3miles downstream of Canyon Lake, at the bottom of the San Jacinto watershed. The local tributary area to Lake Elsinore is 47 square-miles. Surface flow from the watershed reaches Lake Elsinore through release, overflow, or seepage from the Canyon Lake dam. Lake Elsinore acts much like a sink, with almost nonexistent outflow.

In rare situations, including torrential rains and extended rain periods, the lake overflows into Temescal Creek, and ultimately to the Santa Ana River.

Since 2000, stakeholders, in cooperation with the Regional Board, have been working to identify the source of nutrients impairing each lake, and evaluate the impacts to water quality and beneficial uses incurred from nutrient sources.

In December 2004, the Regional Board adopted amendments to the Basin Plan to incorporate TMDLs for nutrients in Lake Elsinore and Canyon Lake. Task 4 of the adopted Lake Elsinore and Canyon Lake TMDL Amendment required stakeholders to prepare and implement a Nutrient Monitoring Program. The program was to include the following:

  • A watershed-wide monitoring program to determine compliance with interim and/or final nitrogen and phosphorus allocations; compliance with the nitrogen and phosphorus TMDL, and load allocations (LAs), including waste load allocations (WLAs).
  • A Lake Elsinore nutrient monitoring program to determine compliance with interim and final nitrogen, phosphorus, chlorophyll a, and dissolved oxygen numeric targets. This program will evaluate and determine the relationship between ammonia toxicity and total nitrogen allocation to ensure that the total nitrogen allocation will prevent ammonia toxicity in Lake Elsinore.
  • Canyon Lake nutrient monitoring program to determine compliance with interim and final nitrogen, phosphorus, chlorophyll a, and dissolved oxygen numeric targets. The monitoring program will evaluate and determine the relationship between ammonia toxicity and the total nitrogen allocation to ensure that the total nitrogen allocation will prevent ammonia toxicity in Canyon Lake.

The Santa Ana Water Board approved the program’s monitoring plan in March 2006. This initial monitoring approach continued through July 2010, where following a review of available data that indicated consistent and similar nutrient concentrations and physical water quality parameters the monitoring program was reduced.

Monitoring continued under the revised program through June 2012. At that time, in agreement with Regional Board, while watershed monitoring would continue, in‐lake monitoring would be discontinued temporarily to redirect TMDL program funding towards nutrient reduction actions including lake stabilization, fishery management and alum application in Canyon Lake.

In April 2015, the Lake Elsinore & Canyon Lake Task Force prepared a draft revised monitoring work plan to support TMDL implementation. This plan focused on a reassessment of current conditions and established a revised monitoring framework to better assess water quality trends towards meeting the existing TMDL numeric targets.

ChapterDeadline (draft – final)
Table of Contents
Table of Contents – Draft3/5/2016
Table of Contents – Final
1) Background
Chapter 1 Introduction – Draft3/5/2016
Chapter 1 Introduction – Final10/19/2016
2) Problem Statement
Chapter 2 Problem Statement – Draft3/5/2016
Chapter 2 Problem Statement – Final10/18/2016
3) Numeric Targets
Chapter 3 Numeric Targets – Draft12/20/2016
4) Source Analysis
Chapter 4 Source Assessment – Draft10/5/2016
5) Linkage Analysis
Chapter 5 Linkage Analysis – Draft6/7/2017
6) Wasteload Allocation and Load Allocation
Chapter 6 Wasteload Allocation and Load Allocation – Draft4/17/2017
7) Implementation and Planning Requirements
Chapter 7 Implementation and Planning Requirements – Draft12/4/2017
8 ) Monitoring Requirements
Chapter 8 Monitoring Requirements – Draft12/4/2017
9 ) Demonstrating Compliance
Chapter 9 Demonstrating Compliance – Draft2/12/2018
10) References
Chapter 9 References
Complete Technical Document
Complete Technical Document – Draft8/4/2017
Complete Technical Document – Final
CEQA – Substitute Environmental Document
Substitute Environmental Document3/24/2018
Economic Analysis
Economic Analysis DRAFT10/15/2018
Supplemental Project Fact Sheets4/30/2018
Administrative Record
Administrative Record – Draft
Administrative Record – Final
Appendix A – Supporting Biological Data3/5/2016

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