Algae Toxin Detected at Lacey’s Long Lake

Health officials advise swimmers and pets to avoid lake algae.
An algae bloom in Lacey’s Long Lake that’s been lurking for several weeks is starting to produce enough toxins to warrant a word of caution from county health officials. The most recent sample detected microcystin algae toxin levels at 20 micrograms per liter of water—14 micrograms above the state standard of 6 micrograms per liter for recreational water use. That means people and pets are advised to stay out of the water, and anglers are reminded that the safest bet in algae-prone waters is to catch and release.

“We know that at this time of year there are only a few swimmers out there, but there are a few diehards, and many people allow their dogs to swim year round,” said Art Starry, Director of the county’s Environmental Health Division. “Our advice to folks is to stay out of waters with thick algae scum and not take the chance of getting sick.”

Warning signs will be posted at public access points around Long Lake, including the city of Lacey’s Long Lake Park where the most recent water sample was taken. The lake will be monitored weekly until the algae bloom is over and the advisory can be lifted.

While not all algae blooms are toxic, some algae 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:

  • 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 if you see algae blooms. Before eating, remove the internal organs, which may contain harmful algae toxins.
  • Avoid areas of scum when boating and clean your boat thoroughly.

WHAT: Toxic Algae Advisory for Long Lake
No swimming, no pets, no fishing advised
WHEN: Effective Immediately
WHERE: Long Lake Park is located at 2790 Carpenter Road in Lacey

For more information about toxic algae blooms and other water quality information, visit the Thurston County Environmental Health web pages at www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/ehadm/swimming/swimming_index.html.

September 26, 2013/Thurston County & City of Lacey News Release