The Spokane region has many bodies of water available for recreation. Take precautions with family and pets while enjoying the water to avoid potentially harmful algae blooms that can be found in some area lakes and rivers.
Harmful algae blooms occur when algae with toxic strains starts to grow. Freshwater algae blooms caused by cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) are most common in lakes, but can occur in rivers and streams with warm, slow-moving and stagnant waters.
Algae blooms can vary in appearance, but commonly look like pea soup or are blue-green or turquoise in color. Extreme summer heat and lower than normal water levels can create an ideal environment for algae to easily grow and multiply.
The toxicity of each bloom can vary and is difficult to predict. Toxicity can change from one day to the next. It isn’t possible to determine how dangerous a bloom is to people and animals by looking at it. Only testing can tell if it is dangerous.
To protect yourself, loved ones and pets, take the following precautions when choosing a body of water for recreation.
Spokane Regional Health District does not routinely sample or post local rivers/lakes for toxic algae. Some of our county’s lakes have associations or groups who do their own monitoring. If you want to report a bloom, submit a water sample for testing, or check to see if a toxic algae bloom has been identified in a body of water in Washington State, visit this website:
Washington State Department of Health | Washington State Department of Ecology | King County Washington State Toxic Algae
Content courtesy of the Washington State Department of Health.