Harmful Algae Alert for Newman Lake

Harmful Algae Alert for Newman Lake

Sep 17, 2021

Kelli Hawkins | | 509.324.1539, c 509.994.8968

SRHD Advises Public to take Precautions

SPOKANE, Wash. – Based on guidance from the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD), Spokane County’s Environmental Programs has issued a harmful algae alert for Newman Lake after test results taken this week revealed potentially harmful toxicity levels for cyanobacteria, also known as a harmful algae bloom (HAB) or blue-green algae.

Per Washington State Department of Health’s Recreational Guidelines, Spokane County and SRHD strongly advise that recreation at Newman Lake stop until further notice. At this time, there is no known illness among people or animals. Water quality monitoring and testing will continue each week to confirm an HAB is still present. Signage at the lake will be updated once toxicity levels are within acceptable limits. Testing results can be found here:

If people choose to eat fish from the lake, it is recommended that they remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking, since toxins are more likely to collect in those tissues.

Symptoms of exposure to algal toxins vary depending on the exposure. Symptoms include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, and/or wheezing. More severe symptoms affecting the liver and nervous system may result from ingestion of water. If symptoms persist, consult with your health care provider.

The Spokane region has many bodies of water available for recreation, however, there is potential risk for pathogens like swimmer’s itch, harmful algae blooms, or bacterial infections that can cause health problems and sickness. The extreme heat this summer and lower than normal water levels can create an ideal environment for organisms to easily grow and multiply.

Community members are encouraged to take the following precautions when choosing a body of water for recreation:

  • Pay attention to signage and do not swim in water that is under a health advisory or is listed as having a toxic algae bloom on the Washington State toxic algae tracking site.
  • Avoid water that is stagnant, has dead fish or other aquatic animals in it, or contains large amounts of algae.
  • Do not swim or play in water near sewer or other discharge pipes or in areas that are frequented by livestock or other land animals.
  • Do not swim near or play in marshy areas where snails are commonly found.

After following the above precautions, it is still safest for a person to avoid getting water in their mouth and nose and to stay out of the water if they have open wounds, sores, or diarrhea. Individuals who swim or play in the water should shower with soap and water when done and contact a healthcare provider immediately if they become ill or have symptoms of infection. If somebody suspects water contains a toxic algae bloom they are encouraged to visit the Washington State toxic algae tracking site for directions on how to report it.

“We are lucky to have so many beautiful lakes and rivers to enjoy in our area,” states Mike LaScuola, SRHD environmental health specialist. “We just want to make sure that everybody is prepared to choose the safest location and avoid any risks to themselves, loved ones, and pets.”

More information on harmful algae blooms can be found on SRHD’s website.