Severe Storm Damage Closes Estuary

The city is working to remove all the dead fish and contaminated water
BY: CALEB HOOGLAND

Like many parts of Los Cabos, the estuary in San Jose has undergone some drastic changes caused by tropical storm Lidia. Looking down from the Puerto Los Cabos bridge, the estuary looks nearly unrecognizable.

This is not the first time the estuary has suffered considerable damage from a storm. It has been subject to natural disaster numerous times over the years, including Hurricane Odile in 2014 and again last year with Hurricane Newton (which hit almost one year to the date). And we can’t forget about those recent occasions when parts of the estuary caught on fire.

However, none of these events took as hard a toll on the estuary as Lidia. At one point during the storm, the arroyo had grown so wide that water was flowing in a stream so wide, the entire length of the bridge had water flowing under it. Today, there is still a steady stream of water flowing, but it has pretty much been reduced to one or two small sections. And, thank God for big gifts, the bridge held.

Preliminary reports from the city’s ecology and environment department give us a grim short-term outlook. They estimate that 30 acres of palm trees were lost. A large part of the bird sanctuary was also affected by the massive amounts of water that ran down the arroyo and through the estuary and bird sanctuary. Almost all of the walkway, which followed the western side of the estuary from the bridge all the way to the ocean, is gone. There’s no word yet from Fonatur as to if or when this pedestrian walkway will be repaired.

Another huge loss are the fish that have been found trapped in the estuary. So far, more than 1700 pounds of dead fish have been discovered rotting in the estuary. The water flow from the arroyo, coupled with the already large estuary, caused La Bocana (the mouth of the estuary) to open during Lidia and nearly all the water that was once in the estuary was lost to the ocean. This is a natural phenomenon that happens every few years depending on rainfall, but the excess water caused a larger loss than is typical. The fish that died were trapped when the water went out to the ocean.

Currently, the local and state governments have organized a temporary clean up group of 60 people to work on the restoration of the estuary. They are removing the fish carcasses and any foliage that could be a fire hazard to the estuary.

For now, it is advised to avoid the estuary. Due to the dead fish, bacteria and contaminated water which present a major health risk. The beach at the mouth of the estuary is also considered hazardous. The city estimates that it should take about two months before it is safe to visit. Until then, stear clear.