A blue-green algae bloom in Clear Lake near Yelm has recently produced enough toxin to prompt an advisory for the lake that is now in effect. Swimming in water with algae toxins or drinking it can lead to serious illness, so people and pets are advised to stay out of the water at Clear Lake, and anglers are reminded that the safest bet during a toxic algae bloom is to catch and release.
Water samples taken from Clear Lake in the last week found the algae toxin Microcystin at 10.4 micrograms per liter of water—slightly above the state standard of 6 micrograms per liter for recreational water use. Signs will be posted boat launches and public access points around the lake until tests show the algae toxin levels have dropped below the state standard.
"The health risk at Clear Lake right now is relatively low for most people, but there is a higher risk of illness for children and pets. We want people to have this information so they can make informed decisions," said Art Starry, Director of the county's Environmental Health Division. "Our advice to folks is to stay out of any waters with visible algae to avoid getting sick, and that catch-and-release is the best bet for avoiding any algae toxins that can build up in a fish's system."
While not all algae blooms are toxic, some algae like Microcystis can produce toxins that can harm the nervous system, the liver, the skin, and the stomach and intestines. Experts from the county's Environmental Health Division recommend a few simple tips to help prevent illness from algae:
WHAT: Algae Advisory for Clear Lake –
- Avoid swimming, wading, wind surfing and water-skiing in waters where algae blooms are present.
- Don't drink untreated surface water.
- Keep pets and livestock out of waters with algae blooms.
- When fishing, catch-and-release is the safest practice. If you do eat your catch, clean any fish you catch thoroughly. Before eating, remove the internal organs, which may contain harmful algae toxins.
- Avoid areas of scum when boating and clean your boat thoroughly.
No swimming, no pets, no fishing advisedWHEN:
Southeast of Yelm off Bald Hill Road (WDFW boat launch is at the south end of the lake off of Bald Hill Road SE)
For more information on protecting yourself, your family and your pets from common swimming and water-borne illnesses, visit the county health department's web page at www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/ehadm/swimming/swimming_index.html