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Stay out of the water! Blue-green algae at a dangerous level at San Luis Reservoir

Slimy algae blooms foul California’s waterways

California waterways were exploding with potentially toxic algae blooms in 2016, another fallout from the prolonged drought.
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California waterways were exploding with potentially toxic algae blooms in 2016, another fallout from the prolonged drought.

The Department of Water Resources issued a warning on Friday for those visiting San Luis Reservoir in Merced County:



Don’t go in the water.

This is based on the potential health risks associated with cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, blooms that accumulate into mats of scum and foam floating on the surface and along the shoreline.

Exposure to the algae is bad. It can cause eye irritation, skin rash, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea and cold- and flu-like symptoms. In high doses it can cause liver damage and attack the nervous system.

Boating is allowed at the reservoir, but swimming and other activities with water contact are not considered safe. People are urged to avoid physical contact with the water until further notice. Anyone exposed to blue-green algae should get immediate medical treatment.

That also goes for pets, which are particularly susceptible to toxins from algae blooms because they lick themselves. Two dogs died after swimming in a algae infested pond in Napa, last year.

Also, avoid eating fish from the lake and keep in mind that common camping filters, tablets and boiling won’t work to purify the water.

The warning elevates an advisory that had been in place at the reservoir since July 19 and is just one example of the blooms affect in central San Joaquin Valley lakes.

Three lakes saw similar, though less severe warnings in June, though conditions in Pine Flat Lake has improved and recent testings found no cyanotoxins (produced from the algae blooms) in the water.

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee
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