State warns of harmful bacteria blooms in Central Valley lakes and rivers

SACRAMENTO
September 9, 2016 12:02pm
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•  Blue-green algae blooms are showing up more frequently

•  Some areas can be dangerous


Blue-green algae blooms, also called cyanobacteria, are showing up more frequently in freshwater lakes, rivers and streams around the state this summer, in part due to the drought and heat. This is especially true in the Central Valley.

Here is what the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is advising:

• Discovery Bay (Responding agency: Contra Costa County Health Services Department)

Current Advisory: Caution and Danger; Signs posted at currently-monitored sites

In July the Contra Costa County Health Services Department responded to multiple citizen complaints of cyanobacteria in Discovery Bay. Sampling indicated the presence of harmful cyanobacteria and the presence of the toxin, microcystin, which triggered the posting of Caution and Danger signs at multiple locations. The Health Services Department is continuing to monitor the bloom and collecting water samples as necessary. Results from the monitoring are posted online and include an algae map, which can be found on the Health Services website.

In addition, 7,000 mailers were sent to bay front property owners and renters. Residents and members of the public are encouraged to visit the website for continual updates. Website link: http://cchealth.org/eh/blue-green-algae.php

• Big Break Regional Shoreline (Responding agency: East Bay Regional Park District)

Current Advisory: Danger; Signs posted at Big Break Regional Shoreline

Since June the East Bay Regional Park District has been conducting routine monitoring of the surface water at the Big Break Regional Shoreline located in the Delta in Contra Costa County. In late July, cyanobacteria colonies along with mats and scum were observed near the kayak launch area. Sampling found low concentrations of the toxin, microcystin. Recent sampling conducted during Aug. 22 and Aug. 29 found concentrations of microcystin above 50 parts per billion (ppb) at the kayak launch area. Signs have been posted prohibiting body contact recreation.

Dogs are not allowed in the water or along the shoreline. East Bay Park staff will continue to monitor the area and provide updates on their Toxic Algae Update website. The public is encouraged to visit the website for continual updates. Website link: http://www.ebparks.org/features/Toxic_Algae_Update

• San Joaquin River (near Stockton) (Responding agency: San Joaquin County Public Health Services)

Current Advisory: Caution

In June the presence of cyanobacteria was reported in the San Joaquin River (Stockton Deep Water Ship Channel) from Antioch to Stockton. No monitoring was conducted but San Joaquin County Public Health Services issued a media release alerting the public. Signs were posted at marinas and public access areas to warn recreational users of the health hazards and to urge them to avoid contact with the cyanobacteria. For more information on this cyanobacteria bloom, contact San Joaquin County Public Health Services at (209) 468-3455.

• San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay (Responding agency: Department of Water Resources)

Current Advisory: Caution (San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay); Signs posted

In July the Department of Water Resources found the toxin, microcystin, above the state’s trigger thresholds in the San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay. In response, California State Parks staff, which manages recreation at the sites, posted danger signs at the reservoir and caution signs at the Forebay. Conditions have improved slightly in the reservoir but have been variable in the forebay. For current posting information the public should contact Water Resources Public Affairs Representative Doug Carlson at (916) 653-5114, or Ted Thomas at (916) 653-9712.

• Isabella Lake and Kern River (Responding agency: Kern County Public Health Services Department)

Current Advisory: Warning (Isabella Lake) and Caution (Kern River); Signs posted.

In August cyanobacteria blooms were reported occurring in Kissack Cove at Isabella Lake, and in the Kern River at the Keyesville Recreation Area and Calloway Weir. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, along with the Kern County Public Health Services Department, conducted sampling at these sites. The toxin, microcystin was found at two sites along Isabella Lake in Kissack Cove and Paradise Cove. Warning signs were posted.

Toxin concentrations in the Kern River were below method detection limits. However, caution is still being urged in the Kern River site near the Calloway Weir due to a report of an animal illness and human illness. It is unknown whether these illnesses were related to cyanobacteria, so the public is being urged to limit body contact recreation in this area. For more information on these cyanobacteria blooms, contact the Kern County Public Health Services Department at (661) 321-3000.

• Lake Britton and Pit River (Responding agency: Pacific Gas and Electric)

Current Advisory: Caution; conditions improving

In July a cyanobacteria bloom was reported occurring in Lake Britton and the Pit River. Low concentrations of the toxin, Anatoxin-a, were found and routine monitoring was conducted by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Low concentrations are still being found but the bloom is subsiding and water quality conditions are improving. The advisory will be lifted and caution signs removed once the toxin is no longer detected. For more information on this cyanobacteria bloom event, contact Paul Moreno at (530) 896-4290.

• Lake Shasta (Responding agency: Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board)

Current Advisory: Caution

In August a cyanobacteria bloom was reported occurring in the Pit River arm of Lake Shasta. Low concentrations of the toxin, Anatoxin-a, were found and routine monitoring was conducted by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Redding Office).

For more information on this cyanobacteria bloom event, contact Clint Snyder or Bryan Smith at (530) 224-4845.

• Lake Oroville (Responding agency: Department of Water Resources)

Current Advisory: No advisory in place; All signs removed.

In July a cyanobacteria bloom was reported occurring in the upper portion of the Middle Fork Feather River arm of Lake Oroville. The bloom occurred in a small, remote location of the lake. The Department of Water Resources conducted monitoring and worked with California State Parks staff to notify park visitors and post caution signs at downstream recreational areas. Monitoring conducted over the past three weeks found no detections of cyanotoxins. A visual check of the bloom area showed no signs of the bloom, indicating it has subsided. With the absence of toxins in the water, caution signs were removed. Water Resources and State Parks staffs are partnering to continue routine monitoring of the area.

For more information on this cyanobacteria bloom event, contact Eric See of the Department of Water Resources, Oroville Field Division, at (530) 534-2324.

• Mountain Meadows Reservoir (Responding agency: Pacific Gas and Electric)

Current Advisory: No advisory in place; All signs removed.

In August a cyanobacteria bloom was reported occurring in the Mountain Meadows Reservoir. Monitoring conducted over the past three weeks by Pacific Gas and Electric Company has found no detection of cyanotoxins, so caution signs were removed and the advisory lifted. For more information on this cyanobacteria bloom event, contact Paul Moreno at (530) 896-4290.


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