Department of Health & Human Services

Posted on: July 21, 2017

Cyanobacteria warnings issued for local rivers, lakes

Local Public and Environmental Health officials are warning recreational users of all bodies of fresh water to avoid contact with cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae).

The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board in cooperation with the Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services, Mendocino County Environmental Health and Lake County Public Health Division issued a warning to avoid contact with cyanobacteria and algal blooms. Although commonly referred to as blue-green algae, following the lead of the state, jurisdictions are using the term cyanobacteria as it is not algae, but bacteria.

Typically, cyanobacteria warnings come out between late July and early August, coinciding with low flows and sustained high temperatures in the inland areas which may contribute to cyanobacteria growth in the river.

Human activities have an effect on nutrient and water flows in rivers, streams and lakes. Nutrients found in fertilizers, animal waste and human waste can stimulate blooms. Excessive water diversions can also increase water temperatures and reduce flows. People can take the following measures to prevent algal blooms in our waters:

  • Be conservative with the use of water, fertilizers and pesticides on your lawn, garden or agricultural operation.
  • Avoid nutrient runoff by recycling any “spent” soil by tilling it back into gardens, or protecting it from rainfall.
  • Create shade and filter out nutrients by planting or maintaining native plants around river banks.
  • Inspect and pump out septic systems every three to four years.
  • Prevent surface water runoff from agricultural and livestock areas.
  • Prevent erosion around construction and logging operations.

Cyanobacteria can be present in any fresh water body. It looks like dark green, blue-green, black, orange or brown scum, foam or mats on the riverbed or floating on the water. Warm water and abundant nutrients can cause cyanobacteria to grow more rapidly than usual causing “blooms.” These blooms are termed “harmful algal blooms.” Most cyanobacteria does not affect animals or people, however, a small number of cyanobacteria species are capable of producing toxins that can be harmful to animals and humans. Dogs and children are most likely to be affected because of their smaller body size and tendency to stay in the water for longer periods of time.

The presence of cyanobacteria has been previously confirmed in some water bodies within Humboldt, Mendocino and Lake counties including the South Fork Eel River, Van Duzen River, Trinity River, Clear Lake and Lake Pillsbury. It is difficult to test and monitor the many lakes and miles of our local rivers. Most blooms in California contain harmless green algae, but it is important to stay safe and avoid contact.

Officials recommend the following guidelines for recreational users of freshwater areas:

  • Keep children, pets and livestock from swimming in or drinking water containing algal scums or mats.
  • Adults should also avoid wading and swimming in water containing algal blooms. Try not to swallow or inhale water spray in an algal bloom area.
  • If no algal scums or mats are visible, you should still carefully watch young children and warn them not to swallow any water.
  • Fish should be consumed only after removing the guts and liver and rinsing fillets in tap water.
  • Never drink, cook with or wash dishes with water from rivers, streams or lakes.Get medical attention immediately if you think that you, your pet, or livestock might have been poisoned by cyanobacteria toxins. Be sure to tell the doctor or veterinarian about possible contact with cyanobacteria or algal blooms.
  • Join or support one of the many watershed and river organizations.

To learn more about cyanobacteria and harmful algal blooms, visit the state of California’s website at www.mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/index.html.

To learn more about cyanobacteria and algae on the South Fork Eel River, visit www.eelriverrecovery.org/algae.html.

To report a bloom, e-mail CyanoHAB.Reports@waterboards.ca.gov or call 844-729-6466 (toll free). Blooms can also be reported via the “bloomWatch” app which is available for free download on iTunes or Google play.

For information on conditions occurring within Humboldt County, contact the Division of Environmental Health at 707-445-6215 or 800-963-9241. Photos of suspected blooms can also be emailed to envhealth@co.humboldt.ca.us.

-###-

Follow us on Twitter: @HumCoDHHS and

Facebook: www.facebook.com/humcodhhs.

Cyanobacteria warnings for 2017 issued (PDF)
Facebook Twitter Google Plus Email

Other News in Department of Health & Human Services

DHHSConnect0717

DHHS Connect Summer 2017

Posted on: July 11, 2017

Low-cost rabies vaccines available

Posted on: May 10, 2017

New Public Health Director Named

Posted on: May 3, 2017

Redwood Coast Career Fair Tuesday

Posted on: April 26, 2017

Wet weather test period extended

Posted on: April 17, 2017

Career Fair scheduled for May 2

Posted on: April 14, 2017

DHHS Connect Spring 2017

Posted on: April 10, 2017

Cal-Learn helps young parents thrive

Posted on: March 17, 2017

Make preteen vaccines a priority

Posted on: February 14, 2017

Dog tests positive for rabies

Posted on: February 7, 2017

Cervical health promoted

Posted on: January 27, 2017

Kick smoking for good in 2017

Posted on: January 11, 2017

DHHS Connect Winter 2016-2017

Posted on: December 28, 2016

Keep the holidays happy with food safety

Posted on: December 21, 2016

Volunteers needed for Point-in-Time count

Posted on: December 15, 2016

Wet weather test period opens

Posted on: December 12, 2016

World AIDS Day recognized Dec. 1

Posted on: November 29, 2016

Veterans' service recognized year-round

Posted on: November 8, 2016

Housing campaign exceeds goal

Posted on: November 2, 2016

DHHS Connect Oct. 2016

Posted on: October 6, 2016

Housing campaign hits goal early

Posted on: September 15, 2016

Orleans cat tests positive for rabies

Posted on: September 2, 2016

Blue-green algae warning issued

Posted on: July 15, 2016

Redwood Coast Career Fair Friday

Posted on: May 16, 2016

Be a hero to a foster child

Posted on: April 15, 2016

Don’t forget preteen vaccines

Posted on: February 8, 2016

Wet weather test period opens

Posted on: December 21, 2015

FluMist Available Now

Posted on: December 3, 2015

Serve up food safety this holiday season

Posted on: November 23, 2015

Schedule back-to-school vaccines now

Posted on: August 17, 2015

World Breastfeeding Week Fair at WIC

Posted on: August 3, 2015

Blue-green algae warning issued

Posted on: June 17, 2015

Keep water recreation fun and safe

Posted on: June 11, 2015

Low-cost rabies vaccines available

Posted on: May 12, 2015

May is Mental Health Month

Posted on: April 30, 2015

Career Fair May 15

Posted on: April 29, 2015

Gonorrhea rates up in Humboldt County

Posted on: April 17, 2015

West Nile testing starts April 15

Posted on: April 14, 2015

Vaccines for Preteens

Posted on: February 10, 2015

Foster families urgently needed

Posted on: January 30, 2015

Cervical health promoted

Posted on: January 9, 2015

Folic acid needed for pregnancy success

Posted on: January 6, 2015

Wet weather test period opens

Posted on: January 5, 2015

Flu season likely to be severe.

Posted on: December 18, 2014

DHHS offers flu vaccines

Posted on: October 8, 2014

Take precautions against swimmer’s itch

Posted on: September 4, 2014

Blue-green algae warning issued

Posted on: July 18, 2014

Take precautions against ticks

Posted on: June 27, 2014