After a long, gray, dreary winter, the sun is out and temperatures are increasing. It’s almost that time of year again, when the only activity that sounds good is to go swim in a local lake, or take the dog for a walk to let them play in the water.
Unfortunately, this favorite of summer pastimes may be cut short due to a natural phenomenon known as harmful algae blooms, or HABs. HABs are occurring all around the world, and not just in Washington. As the days get longer and temperatures increase, our waters get warmer and this can lead to blooms. What do they look like, and what should you do if you encounter one? Most importantly, do not come into contact with the water, and do not let your pet come into contact with the water.
Generally, you will notice a thick, bluish-green mat on the water. As the bloom starts to decompose, there is a strong odor as well. If the water looks like green paint, stay out of it! A new nationwide tool has been set up to help track these blooms across the country. Please visit www.cyanos.org\bloomwatch for more information on how you can report a bloom simply using your cell phone!
You can also report potential blooms to the Washington State Toxic Algae Program. This is a collaboration between Department of Ecology and Department of Health. More information can be found at https://www.nwtoxicalgae.org/ReportBloom.aspx.
Together with local municipalities, state agencies, and others, you can help keep our waters fishable and swimmable!