Harmful algal blooms in recreational water: When in doubt, stay out!

Most of the year, Idaho’s lakes and reservoirs are safe to enjoy. But when water temperatures increase, as they typically do in July and August, and the right type of nutrients are available, some bodies of water can produce blooms of harmful bacteria that can be dangerous for humans, pets, livestock, and wildlife. We call those blooms harmful algal blooms.

What causes harmful algal blooms?

The blooms are caused by bacteria that can produce toxins. The blooms are also referred to as cyanobacterial blooms. When weather conditions are calm and there is an increase in water temperature and nutrients, bacteria can rapidly increase and produce a bloom. Blooms can occur at any time, but they most often occur in late summer or early fall.

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What do these blooms look like?

They can be blue, bright green, brown, or red and may look like paint or anti-freeze floating on the water. As the bloom develops, it may look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of lakes and ponds. Continue reading

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Harmful Algal Blooms: When in doubt, stay out!

Central District Health and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued the first harmful algal bloom health advisory of the summer season on June 23 because of cyanobacterial blooms in Little Camas Reservoir. Most of the year, Idaho’s lakes and reservoirs are safe to enjoy. But when water temperatures increase and the right type of nutrients are available, some bodies of water can produce harmful algal blooms, which can be dangerous for humans, pets, livestock, and wildlife.

What is a harmful algal bloom?

They are bacteria (not algae) that can produce toxins. The blooms are also referred to as cyanobacterial blooms. When weather conditions are calm and there is an increase in water temperature and nutrients, they can rapidly increase in number and produce a bloom. Blooms can occur at any time, but they most often occur in late summer or early fall.

What do these blooms look like?

Harmful blooms can be blue, bright green, brown, or red and may look like paint or anti-freeze floating on the water. As the bloom matures, it may look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of freshwater lakes and ponds. If you or pets or livestock swim in or drink from water that contains a bloom, the effects can be dangerous.

Continue reading