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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Avoid Algae Blooms in Silver Lake


For the second consecutive summer, the Cowlitz County Health Department is warning the public to avoid algae blooms in Silver Lake.

The lake is not closed to recreation. However, the public is strongly encouraged to avoid contact with the water where algae is visibly present, health officials said.

"People can still use the lake, but they just need to stay away from any algae bloom," said Janis Housden, the health department's public information officer.

Health officials Monday posted cautionary signs read "toxic algae may be present" after routine monitoring found the blooms last week. Additional education signs are posted as well.

Some species of algae produce toxins harmful to humans and pets if they swallow or touch the green and scummy growth. Health officials took water samples Monday and sent them to the state Department of Ecology to be checked. Test results are expected early next week, Housden said.

Algae blooms give the water an overall green or blue-green color. It's often accompanied by an unpleasant odor.

There have been no reports of illness of humans or animals from contact with Silver Lake. Drinking water from public water systems or private wells in the areas around the lake is unaffected by the bloom and is safe to drink. Fish are safe to eat as long as the digestive organs are removed.

Symptoms of exposure to certain algae toxins include stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, blurred vision, convulsions or severe muscle and joint pains. Skin irritations, allergic reactions, rashes and blisters are also possible. Symptoms may occur within minutes, hours or even up to days after exposure.

Anyone who has these symptoms should see a doctor.

In August 2009, health department officials posted signs for about two weeks warning people and their animals to avoid contact with the lake water after harmful toxins were discovered in the algae bloom.


Anonymous said...

I wonder what would happen if they released algae eaters into the lake. They're fresh water fish, and should pose little problems to habitat. Just a thought.

Cowlitz County DEM said...

The algae eaters would likely mutate into swamp monsters who battle evil villians, but secretly have a soft spot for blonde starlets. Good thing Cowlitz County has me on board to make sure these terrible things don't happen. In all seriousness, that does seem like a reasonable solution to the problem. If you are interested in a more informed answer than mine, you could contact Cowlitz Co. Environmental Health at 414-5592.