State and provincial water officials are urging people to stay away from the waters of Lake Elsinore and Big Bear Lake after elevated levels of algae were found.
The California State Water Resources Control Board and Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board warn both fishermen and recreational users to stay off the water. They also strongly advise against eating shellfish from the lake.
“We have been observing the blooms in both lakes for some time. When certain conditions are favorable for algae and cyanobacteria, they can grow rapidly and cause blooms,” Barbara Barry, a senior environmental scientist with the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board, said in an email. “Algae and cyanobacteria can produce harmful compounds such as toxins, flavors and odors that cause health risks to humans and animals.”
The algal bloom in Lake Elsinore has been going on for several months, while the bloom in Big Bear started in July, Barry said.
The high levels of algae were detected through visual observation and laboratory results, according to Barry.
The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board takes water samples twice a month from Lake Elsinore and once a month from Big Bear Lake to monitor bloom and see if toxins are being produced, Barry said.
“Recently, cyanotoxins produced by the flowers have started to rise, so we have recommended that the City of Lake Elsinore and the Big Bear Municipal Water District put up signs warning the public around the lakes,” Barry said.
According to Barry, Lake Elsinore was last sampled on August 9th and Big Bear Lake on Tuesday. She expects the results of these samples to be reported soon. The results are published on the Harmful Algal Bloom Incident Reports map.
Signs have been put up at several public access points around Lake Elsinore by the lake’s staff, Barry said. The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board also recommends that the Big Bear Municipal Water District place warning signs around this lake and hazard signs at the Carol Morrison Public Boat Launch on the east side of the lake, where the highest concentrations have been recorded.
According to warning signs on both lakes, people are urged not to swim in the lakes and to stay away from foam and cloudy or discolored water. They also ask that people watch their pets and children to ensure they don’t get in or drink the water.
No one should eat shellfish from the lake or use its water for drinking or cooking. Barry warns that boiling or filtering the water doesn’t make it safe.
For fish caught in both lakes, fishermen are asked to discard the guts and wash the fillets with tap water or bottled water before cooking.
“There is currently no estimate of when cyanotoxins will drop to levels that we would recommend for safe swimming, but we will continue to monitor cyanotoxin levels in the water and update the public of our findings,” Barry said.
If visitors are exposed to algae, they are encouraged to wash with clean water. They should also practice healthy water habits by following the directions on any signs in the area.
Barry encourages people to report any suspected harmful algal blooms or associated diseases at mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/do/bloomreport.html.
“This helps authorities understand where problems are occurring and respond appropriately,” Barry said.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-17/toxic-algae-lake-elsinore-big-bear-lake-stay-out-of-water Water officials warn visitors about toxic algae in Lake Elsinore, Big Bear Lake