Avoid Harmful Algae Blooms When Near Water
Don’t get stuck in the muck. Or better yet, don’t allow yourself to get sick by it.
When recreating in or near water, keep an eye out for that unsightly scum-like stuff that likes to float on top. Harmful algae bloom, or HAB for short, is dangerous to both humans and animals.
The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality so far this year has issued health advisories for seven different locations where HAB has been detected, including Thorn Creek Reservoir in Gooding County.
Don’t know what HAB looks like? Idaho Power describes it this way, explaining that although it is a natural occurrence, it creates problems for people and pets:
Bacteria and algae are vitally important to freshwater ecosystems. Cyanobacteria are a type of bacteria commonly referred to as blue green algae. When cyanobacteria begin to grow rapidly a bloom can result. This is a natural occurrence, but these algal blooms can create a potential hazard for humans and animals. Water users should take note of whether visible blooms are present in areas where they or their pets or livestock may come into contact with the water.
Blue green algae blooms can be unsightly and vary in appearance. These blooms can appear as visible green, blue-green, or reddish brown foam, scum, or mats that float on or near the water surface, especially near the shoreline.
Blooms may appear at different times of day.They may be associated with foul odors either during the bloom or after the algae begins to die.
The DEQ says that if you swim, boat or do other activities in or near water to:
- Avoid exposure to water experiencing a harmful algal bloom.Take extra precautions to ensure children, pets, and livestock are not exposed to the water. Keep dogs on a leash.
- Do not consume water with a blue-green algae bloom. Neither boiling nor disinfecting removes blue-green algae toxins from water.
- If fish are known to have been exposed to a blue-green algae bloom, only consume the fillet portion. Toxins produced by blue-green algae can accumulate in the organs of fish (remove the fat, organs, and skin). Wash hands after handling. The risk associated with consuming fish caught in waters with a blue-green algae bloom is unknown.