Watch out for toxic algae blooms

Now that the weather is warmer and people are enjoying the water, be on your guard against toxic algae blooms in Washington's lakes. They can make people sick, especially children.

If the level of toxins is high enough, pets, livestock and wildlife can die from drinking water laden with toxic algae.

The Washington Department of Ecology and local governments are monitoring algae toxins in lakes across the state. So far this year, few lakes have experienced toxic blooms, but that may change with warmer, sunnier weather.

On the peninsula, toxic algae blooms have been confirmed in Anderson Lake in Jefferson County.

The algae might be smelly and look like green paint, oil or sewage floating on the surface. Blooms can be several inches thick on the shoreline and hard to pick up or hold.

To report a suspected freshwater algae bloom, call your nearest Department of Ecology office. Find out more about contacting Ecology at

To report an illness related to algae bloom exposure, contact your local health agency or the state Department of Health at 360-236-3173.

The state health department website has information about symptoms related to blue-green algae toxins at

Phosphorus and nitro-gen are nutrients that feed algae blooms. They are found in animal and human waste (sewage), in fertilizers, and even in rainwater.

People can help keep

these nutrients out of state waters in these ways:

• Your home septic tank - Check it, fix it and maintain it.

• Your yard - Reduce the use of fertilizers, especially before a big rain. Don't overwater.

• Your dog - Scoop, bag and trash dog droppings.

• Your baby - Keep dirty diapers out of the water.

• Your car - Don't feed soap to the storm drain. Wash your car on the lawn or at a commercial car wash.

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