Blaine County, (PRESS RELEASE) – South Central Public Health District, in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), has issued a health advisory for Magic Reservoir.

The DEQ confirmed the presence of unhealthy levels of Microcystins.  Microcystins are the toxic product of certain species of blue-green algal blooms, often referred to as Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs).

Balthasar Buhidar, Water Quality Manager with the DEQ, reports that sample taken on September 9, 2016 at Lava Point in Blaine County  indicate an average Microcystin level of 136 µg/L or 136 micrograms per liter of water.  According to the World Health Organization, a Microcystin level higher than 20 micrograms per liter of water presents a “high risk” for recreational water users.

Health officials will post advisory notices in the area of Lava Point; however, recreational water users should take precautions when accessing the water anywhere in the reservoir, as algal blooms are likely to be present in other locations.

Health officials are advising recreational water users take the following precautions:

  • Anglers should only consume the fillet portion of the 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. Toxins produced by blue-green algae can accumulate in the organs of fish.
  • Take extra precautions to ensure children, pets, and livestock are not exposed to the water where algal blooms exist.
  • Do not consume water with algal blooms. Neither boiling nor disinfecting removes blue-green algae toxins from water.

According to Josh Jensen, Public Health Program Manager, with South Central Public Health District, “Children and pets are particularly susceptible.  Exposure to the toxins produced by cyanobacterial HABs may result in life-threatening liver damage, neurological problems such as muscle spasms, decreased movement, labored breathing, convulsions, and possible death.”

HABs develop when specific types of photosynthetic bacteria form visible, dense, build- ups in freshwater lakes, ponds, and reservoirs.  Warm, slow moving water with high nutrient levels, particularly phosphorous, create conditions that allow algae to grow very quickly.  Typically, these conditions occur during the warmer months of late summer and early fall.  HABs shrink dramatically as the water temperature drops in mid to late fall.

DEQ will continue to monitor water quality until the bloom dissipates and will advise the public when the concern no longer exists.

SOURCE: South Central Public Health District