We saw a social media post from a woman who was enjoying the waters of Payette Lake with her dog this week, when her pet became ill and subsequently died. We are very sorry for her loss, but also quite concerned. The post said her pet died from blue-green algae bloom, which can cause serious illness in people, and is often fatal to pets and livestock.
The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) was contacted, and we have been working with them, Central District Health and Idaho Parks and Recreation. DEQ is the lead agency and posted the following on their Facebook page that sums up their efforts so far. We will keep you updated as we learn more. The DEQ post:
DEQ has investigated an unfortunate report of a canine death in McCall that occurred soon after swimming at a Payette Lake beach area near the Ponderosa State Park boat launch. DEQ personnel promptly investigated and sampled for blue-green algae the same day the report was made. DEQ spoke with the treating veterinarian, dog owner, state park personnel, Central District Health Department and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. DEQ personnel assessed the beach and conducted an extensive survey of nearby shoreline and found no indicator characteristics of a harmful algae bloom, including no discoloration of the water, visible scum, or residue on shoreline material. Although there were no visible signs of a harmful algae bloom, water quality samples were sent to a lab specializing in blue-green algae analyses. DEQ expects these results on Friday, July 10.
DEQ routinely monitors Payette Lake and its tributaries twice a month. During these monitoring events, we collect water quality samples and monitor for any potential harmful algae blooms. Ponderosa State Park conducts visual assessments for blue-green algae on a weekly basis.
While there has not been a documented case of a harmful algae bloom on Payette Lake, we do know that harmful algae blooms occur in Idaho. Some species produce toxins that may cause illness or possible death to animals, including pets, livestock, and wild animals. Humans who drink, swim, or recreate in water with high concentrations of blue-green algae or their toxins may experience gastroenteritis, skin irritation, allergic responses, or liver damage. Water users should be aware of conditions indicative of harmful algal blooms and report them to DEQ. For more information about blue-green algae, see http://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/…/…/HarmfulAlgalBloom2.pdf.