Until this year, Lake Laguna — yes, that translates as Lake Lake — had provided a provided a thriving urban oasis for residents of San Luis Obispo and others along California’s central coast. People brought their boats and children played on the shore. Homeowners constructed docks next to their backyards.
Now those docks rest above a parched lakebed. Children play in the lake, not beside it. Fish are long gone. Signs warning swimmers to take care without a lifeguard remain affixed to docks that rise high above the ground.
Champa and I visited the park while in San Luis Obispo. We had a couple of hours to kill and saw it listed on a website as a nice place to take a leisurely hike. The website did not include the new information that Lake Lake no longer looks like a lake.
We chatted there with a young woman playing with her dog, who told us she has lived in the area her entire life and had never before seen the lake become dry. She described the fish stinking as they rotted a year earlier and wondered aloud whether the lake would ever return.
The drought is unavoidable here in California. But until today, it had been somewhat abstract to us. No longer, and the experience only increases my disgust with timid presidential candidates who insist in the face of overwhelming evidence that climate change is uncertain. Perhaps the next Republican debate should be held here at Lake Laguna, the lake with no water.