It’s that time of year when toxic algae blooms pose challenges to public water suppliers, with rising temperatures providing an opportunity for the growth and spread of these water contaminants.
Blooms become more common as temperatures soar. Nearly 70 California lakes, rivers and reservoirs have issued warnings and danger advisories so far this year, according to information from the state Water Resources Control Board that has a group of researchers, including Senior Environmental Scientist Marisa Van Dyke working on harmful algae bloom issues.
In addition to hot weather, excessive nutrients in water from agricultural runoff contributes to the problem.
At least three different sections of Clear Lake in Lake County have reported dangerous levels of harmful algae blooms in 2022. The lake, “which used to be a vibrant getaway,” the report noted, is now one of the places where impacts of the blooms produced far-reaching harm, stated Carly Nilson, a state Water Board scientist.
In Kern County, on May 27, a caution went out for the Auxiliary Dam Boat Launch. In Los Angeles County, on May 11, an advisory was issued at Puddingstone Reservoir for Bonelli RV Resort and Campground. In the past, Castaic Lake has had its share of precautions.
It’s been nearly a year since the California Department of Water Resources urged the public to avoid contact with water at Pyramid Lake in L.A. County because of the growth of blue-green algae, formally called cyanobacteria, a highly toxic contaminant. Although boating was not prohibited in August 2021, swimming and other water-contact activities were deemed unsafe due to potentially harmful health effects. At that time all swim beaches were closed, not only to people, but to their pets.
Exposure to blue-green algae can cause eye irritation, an allergic skin rash, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea and flu-like symptoms. Pets can be extremely susceptible because they frequently drink while in the water and lick their fur afterward. Keep pets away from algae infested water.
In addition to health problems associated with toxic algae, the contaminant results in a financial loss if recreational facilities must shut down during a cleanup period.
AVEK staff continually monitors reports of algae blooms in any State Water Project reservoir or nearby body of water. AVEK has proven the ability to handle any problem and maintain water quality standards.