Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District (EVMWD) and the Canyon Lake POA took water samples from three locations on Canyon Lake on Friday, May 17.
Microcystins are toxins produced by cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria are also known as blue-green algae and are ubiquitous in surface water when conditions are favorable for growth and formation of algae blooms.
According to the POA, there were no microcystins or cyanotoxins detected at any of the three locations sampled and lake conditions are considered normal at this time.
There are permanent yellow caution signs around Canyon Lake advising residents to use caution around all forms of algae. These signs will remain posted year-round unless testing indicates higher levels of cyanobacteria, at which point signs are posted as appropriate.
About Blue-Green Algae Blooms
As with any lake, ocean, or river, Canyon Lake’s aquatic ecosystem cannot be compared to a swimming a pool that is treated with chemicals to ensure water quality. The natural lake processes occur and there may be times that the water quality for recreation may pose a health risk.
Recently, the State Department of Water Resources began to test State facilities for the presence of harmful algae. Prior to 2013, there was no way to test for the presence of this naturally occurring algae bloom and it is likely that most reservoirs have experienced this. Some general best practices guidelines regardless of any elevated test include:
- Do not drink the water and try not to get water in your mouth.
- Do not eat algae or aquatic plants.
- Do not let pets enter the water. They are not allowed in the water by regulation.
- Do not go swimming if you have open wounds or cuts.
- Shower after using the lake.
Humans who drink or swim in water that contains high concentrations of cyanobacteria or cyanobacterial toxins may experience gastroenteritis, skin irritation and allergic responses.
In conjunction with the State Water Board and the Department of Water Resources, three levels of advisories have been established so visitors can be informed about the current water condition in a particular area.
First Level: Caution
A caution warning indicates that you can swim in the water but you should avoid contact with algae and keep children away from algae. Do not drink the water or use it for cooking. Do not eat shellfish. Do not allow pets to enter the water.
Second Level: Warning
A warning means that you should not swim. Stay away from scum or algae, do not drink or use water for cooking. Do not eat shellfish. Do not allow pets to enter the water.
Third Level: Danger
Stay out of the water including wading. Stay away from scum or algae, do not drink or use water for cooking. Do not eat shellfish. Do not allow pets to enter the water.
Bloom conditions can change rapidly and wind and waves may move or concentrate the bloom into different regions of the reservoir. The algae bloom can accumulate into mats, scum, or form foam at the surface and along the shoreline, and range in color from blue, green, white, or brown.
State guidelines on cyanobacteria and harmful algae blooms recommend the following precautions be taken in waters impacted by blue-green algae:
- Do not let pets and livestock drink the water, swim through algae blooms, scum, or mats, or lick their fur after going in the water. Rinse pets in clean water to remove algae from fur.
- Avoid wading, swimming, or jet or water skiing in water containing algae blooms, scum, or mats.
- Do not drink, cook, or wash dishes with untreated surface water from these areas under any circumstances. Common water purification techniques such as camping filters, tablets, and boiling do not remove toxins.
- Do not eat fish or shellfish from this water.
- Get medical treatment immediately if you think that you, a family member, friend, pet, or livestock might have been poisoned by blue-green algae toxins.
Be sure to alert medical professionals to the possible contact with blue-green algae. Also, make sure to contact the local county public health department.
For more information, visit the websites of the following: Canyon Lake POA, California Department of Public Health, State Water Resources Control Board, CA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.