Drought and heat are taking a toll on water quality in local lakes.
A health advisory was issued today for Hayden Lake after sampling confirmed the presence of a blue-green algae bloom in the lake’s northern end. Honeysuckle Beach, a popular swimming destination, is not affected by the bloom.
Advisories also are in effect for Fernan and Avondale lakes.
“We have the perfect ingredients for all the things that create blue-green algae blooms,” said Thomas Herron, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality’s regional water quality manager.
The low snowpack and early runoff means “we are not flushing the nutrients” out of the lakes, Herron said. Warmer water temperatures and increased sunlight also contribute to conditions that produce the blooms, which are more frequently seen in late summer.
People recreating in the three lakes should be on the lookout for areas where the water is an uncharacteristic green color, or where thick mats are present along the shoreline. Swallowing, inhaling or other contact with water containing the blooms should be avoided, according to the Panhandle Health District.
Toxins produced by the blooms are particularly dangerous to children and pets. Animals exposed to the toxins can undergo a rapid progression of neurological symptoms, including spasms, labored breathing and death.
If people catch fish from areas with algae blooms, the fat, skin and organs should be removed before cooking, health officials said.
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