Algae bloom at Castaic Lake prompts caution advisory

FILE ART. A swimmer looks out over a serene Paradise Cove at Castaic Lake's Lower Lagoon. The lake is part of the State Water Project that transports Northern California water to Southern California. August 14, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

State water officials issued a “caution advisory” Thursday warning visitors to Castaic Lake about a toxic algae bloom spotted in the upper lake.

Local park officials, however, pointed out Thursday that the algae in question remains relatively isolated near the Elderberry section of the upper lake, near the electrical plant.

“This is only at the caution advisory level,” said Tracy Hild, spokeswoman for the Castaic Lake Recreation Area. 

Nevertheless, swimmers, boaters and anglers are all being told to be aware of algae when they’re out on the lake.

Algae blooms can be harmful to people and pets because of the toxins they produce.

The lagoon, however, remains clear with no algae toxins detected, she said, noting that the warning is considered the “lowest advisory level,” and that swimming is still permitted in the lower lake portion of Castaic Lake.

“The lower lake is fine,’ Hild said. “Swimming is good. The junior lifeguard program is good, boating is good.”

The caution advisory is simply that — a caution.

“Advisories are sent out for warning and danger level,” Macias said. “Bloom conditions can change rapidly, and may move around the reservoir,” she said.

Macias recommends: 

  • Avoid contact with algae.
  • Keep pets away from water. 

Macias was asked Thursday what swimmers should do if they encounter algae.

“If in contact with algae, you should rinse yourself or your pet with clean water,” she said. “If you or your pet gets sick after going in the water, contact your doctor or veterinarian.”

Algae blooms reached the danger level at the San Luis Reservoir in Merced County on Thursday, prompting an advisory urging people to avoid physical contact with the water at San Luis Reservoir until further notice and to avoid eating fish from the lake due to the presence of blue-green algae.

Blue-green algae is also officially referred to as cyanobacteria. It occurs in freshwater and estuarine water bodies, according to officials with the state’s Department of Water Resources.

In certain “favorable” conditions, algae and cyanobacteria can rapidly grow causing “blooms.”

They can produce harmful compounds, such as toxins and taste and odor compounds, that cause health risks to humans and animals.

When blooms pose a risk to humans, animals and the environment, they are referred to as harmful algal blooms.

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