Toxic algae blooms found at Red Lake, Indian Creek Reservoir |

Toxic algae blooms found at Red Lake, Indian Creek Reservoir

Warning signs have been posted at Red Lake and Indian Creek Reservoir.

Alpine County officials are advising the public to avoid contact with at least two lakes that have toxic algae blooms.

Officials say the blooms are toxic to animals and humans and have been found in Red Lake and Indian Creek. Reservoir.

The Alpine County Health Department has been working with The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (Red Lake), South Tahoe Public Utility District (Indian Creek Reservoir), and the Alpine Watershed Group in determining that there are levels of toxin associated with blooms of blue-green algae in multiple lakes in the county.

Levels recorded at Red Lake are well above the “danger” level, officials said, while levels at Indian Creek Reservoir triggered a “warning” alert.” STPUD, who manages the reservoir, posted caution signs to warn lake users to stay away from algae and scum in the water.

Red Lake is a popular fishing destination off Highway 88 near Carson Pass. The current algal bloom is impacting the entire lake but is most pronounced along the southeast shoreline, officials said. Warning signs have also been posted.

The harmful algal bloom, or HABs, appears as bright pea-green, discolored water with suspended flecks of material near the surface. As the bloom continues to grow, cyanobacteria colonies may become larger and form a thick film or scum on the water surface. Bloom conditions in the lake can change rapidly, as the flow of surface water and wind may mix, move, or concentrate the bloom into different areas of the lake.

“Ongoing testing will be conducted on a regular basis,” Alpine County Health Officer Richard Johnson said. “My prediction is that conditions will get worse before they get better.”

Potential symptoms in dogs following exposure to blue-green algae toxins can include lethargy, difficulty breathing, salivation, vomiting, urination, diarrhea, or convulsions leading to death. The unexplained death of a dog after contact with contaminated water is often a sentinel event which alerts officials to the potential of a toxic bloom. People can experience eye irritation, skin rash, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea, and cold or flu-like symptoms, with impacts to the liver.

Dogs and children are most likely to be affected because of their smaller body size and tendency to stay in the water for longer periods. 

While there is no antidote for exposures, people should see their physician and those with pets that may have been exposed should take them to a veterinarian. Livestock who are drinking contaminated water can also suffer fatal consequences.

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