Algae bloom prompts concern at Wright’s Lake near Desolation Wilderness | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Algae bloom prompts concern at Wright’s Lake near Desolation Wilderness

Dawn Hodson
Mountain Democrat

WRIGHT'S LAKE — Concerns over an algae bloom at Wright's Lake resulted in a call to the Central Valley Water Board to conduct water samples.

According to staff at the Eldorado National Forest, a member of the public visited the lake on June 28 and observed a subsurface algal bloom that appeared to extend throughout the lake.

The algal bloom was suspected of being benthic cyanobacteria, a blue-green algae that produces a toxin that can be deadly to humans and animals. According to the EPA, cyanobacteria are commonly referred to as algae but are actually photosynthetic bacteria. When present in large quantities as "blooms", they can impact water bodies by producing toxic compounds.

According to the EPA, common causes of harmful algal blooms include increased inputs of nitrogen and phosphorous, low flowing and stagnant water and sustained higher temperatures.

Noticeable from the shore, the dark-colored algae extended in many places from the shoreline toward the center of the lake.

Out of concern, a "caution" advisory was issued until tests could be completed. Cabin owners in the area were notified.

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On Monday Matthew Krause, an environmental scientist with the Central Valley Water Board, was at the lake taking water samples.

Adam Laputz, who is the assistant executive officer at the Central Valley Water Board said on Wednesday that they sent the samples to a lab and the initial results are that while it is algae, it is not toxic.

However, as a precaution they sent the sample for further chemical analysis and should have the results by Monday.

Laputz said they are seeing algae blooms elsewhere in the valley and hills but this is the first time at Wright's Lake.

Forest Service staff at the lake said they believe the algae formed because the lake normally freezes in December and kills the algae in the lake. However, this past year it didn't freeze until months later, allowing the algae to grow.