Three dogs in California died two months after drinking from a lake full of toxic algae bloom. However, pet owners claimed that the warning signs were inadequate.
Officials say that the reason for the bloom spread throughout Lake Chabot in Alameda County, CA is the state’s dry, warm weather. Lake Chabot has been experiencing a bloom of toxic cyanobacteria—or blue-green algae—since September 2014. The lake authorities have already put up a notice warning to people to avoid touching or wading in the water.
This is the first time in 80 years that East Bay Regional Park district experienced an algae bloom. Generally speaking algae blooms are common in California lakes, but this phenomenon usually happens in summer.
Carolyn Jones, spokesperson for East Bay Regional Parks, said “Our hearts go out to the owners of these dogs that have passed away. It’s tragic. We are putting up more signs and making them more obvious to keep people and pets away from the water.”
Park officials even admitted that the lake was not chemically treated. It would be very difficult for them to treat the 315-acre lake due to its size.
Presently, signs were posted at the park’s entrance and employees to warn everyone about the algae threat. Anglers and boaters who touched the lake water were also advised to rinse off with fresh water and to clean guts out of fish before cooking.
Despite the algae outbreak, Lake Chabot remained open.
How the algae grew and its effects to living organisms
Drought and other climate change can exacerbate algae blooms. Hans Paerl, Kenan Professor of Marine and Environmental Sciences at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill said, that harmful cyanobacteria grows better in warmer waters than some other types of algae. Periods of heavy rainfall followed by extreme drought create conditions of cyanobacteria development. The rain will wash more nutrients into bodies of water and on the other hand, the drought will warm the water to levels that trigger blue-green algae growth.
Cyanobacteria blooms can pose major dangers to animals and people. Apart from animal deaths, the blooms can also inhibit the growth of fish and plankton. Even if people and animals manage to avoid the affected body of water, the blooms can still be a major inconvenience. In August 2014, about 400,000 people in Toledo, OH couldn’t drink their water after toxic algae bloomed in Lake Erie. In September of the same year, in Oregon a blue-green algae bloom affected Willamette River. This is unusual for Oregon State since these algae blooms usually occur in lakes and ponds, instead of major rivers.
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