Swimmers, pet owners, and anglers are advised to avoid contact with Clear Lake due to a toxic blue-green algae bloom. If fishing, the safest practice is catch and release.
A water sample taken from Clear Lake on September 19, 2014 found the algae toxin Microcystin at 10.4 micrograms per liter of water, which is above the state standard of 6 micrograms per liter for recreational water use. Microcystin can cause liver poisoning in people and animals. Symptoms can take hours or days to appear. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting in humans and death in animals.
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.
For more information about toxic algae blooms and other water quality information, visit the Thurston County Environmental Health web page, Swimming in Thurston County.