After the apparent dumping of sewage and chemicals from a portable toilet, Redwood Parks officials announced an emergency closure Friday for Freshwater Lagoon just south of Orick.
Park officials believe the dumping occurred sometime Wednesday at the boat launch area on the northernmost tip of Freshwater Lagoon; the first watery stretch of Humboldt Lagoons State Park seen from Highway 101 when entering from the north.
“What a mess down there,” said Dave Roemer, chief of resources management and science for Redwood National and State Parks. “It smells like sewage and looks like what you'd expect if someone dumped a chemical toilet into a pond.”
A “blue tinge” and something similar-looking to “dense green algae” surrounds the boat launch area, Roemer said, posing a potential public health risk.
The clean-up plan is to let nature takes its course, because the Parks Service does not know for certain what was dumped.
If there were visible solids in the water, Redwood Parks would remove it, and if the dump was on land, it could be cleaned up with absorbent materials.
The Park Service and the Humboldt County Environmental Health Division explored solutions, making phone calls to chemical toilet companies for clean-up recommendations. Officials ultimately found out that without knowing what it is, there isn’t a prescribed method to take care of it.
The area is closed until the conditions improve. Park visitors are advised to not come into contact with the water or eat fish caught in the lagoon for the time being.
The illegal dumping was reported by a park visitor at the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center in Orick.
“I kind of hope someone will report it,” Roemer said. “We’d love to be able to hit somebody with this.”
Anyone with information about the illegal dumping at Freshwater Lagoon, should call Roemer at 707-465-7700.