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News / Health / Clark County Health

Blue-green algae bloom found in Lacamas, Round lakes

Clark County Public Health advises avoiding contact with water

By Adam Littman, Columbian Staff Writer
Published: June 24, 2019, 4:30pm

Clark County Public Health issued blue-green algae advisories Monday for Lacamas and Round lakes in Camas.

Camas city officials first noticed a possible algae bloom late Friday afternoon in Lacamas Lake, according to Denis Ryan, Public Works operations supervisor for the city. Ryan said the bloom city officials noticed was close to Heritage Park. Signs were posted at all access points to the lake to let visitors know, and Camas called Public Health.

County health officials then went out Monday morning to Lacamas, Round and Fallen Leaf lakes. They identified blue-green algae blooms in Lacamas Lake, near Lacamas Lake Lodge and along the Heritage Trail shoreline, and Round Lake, near the dam in the slough adjacent to the lake. Staff did not see a bloom at Fallen Leaf Lake.

Lacamas and Round lakes are connected, but the city of Camas maintains Lacamas Lake while the county owns the 312-acre Lacamas Regional Park, which surrounds Round Lake.

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, produce toxins that can be harmful to people and deadly for small pets if ingested. Water samples were collected from both lakes, and results are expected to come back later this week to determine if there are toxins in the water.

Public Health officials are advising people to avoid direct contact with lake water in areas of floating blue-green-colored scum. People should avoid swimming, boating or water skiing in areas of scum, drinking lake water, or letting animals come in contact with scum. Lake fish should be cleaned well, and their organs discarded.

Ryan said it seems a bit early in the summer to be discussing algae blooms, but this is the second and third blue-green algae advisories issued by the county this month. An advisory was issued June 12 for Vancouver Lake and remains in effect, according to a press release sent Monday from Public Health.

“Test results from water samples taken from (Vancouver Lake) showed low levels of toxins in the water. The levels were below thresholds for taking additional action,” the news release reads. “Currently, the only visible bloom is at the Burnt Bridge Creek inlet. However, the entire lake remains under advisory, as blue-green algae blooms can dissipate and grow as conditions change.”

Summer recreation affected

Sweetwater SUP Rentals at Lacamas Lake, which rents out stand-up paddleboards and kayaks, shut down late Friday after hearing from city officials about the algae bloom, co-owner Rene Carroll said. The company canceled about a dozen weekend rentals customers had already signed up for, she said. While it wasn’t too hot, Carroll said the company usually sees 20 to 50 rentals on a typical June weekend.

“We felt we needed to err on the side of caution and keep our customers and employees off of the lake until we could verify whether it was a toxic bloom,” she said.

She opened the business with her daughter-in-law in 2014, and this is the first time they’ve had to close due to algae blooms, Carroll said. There was an algae advisory at Lacamas Lake in 2018, but it was after Labor Day weekend, when Sweetwater closes up for the year.

Anyone with questions about the blue-green algae advisories should call the city of Camas at 360-817-7983. Anyone who wants to notify the county about a possible bloom can call 564-397-8428 or email dlcntyhealthwaterrec@clark.wa.gov. People can also report blooms at www.clark.wa.gov/public-health/report-health-concern.

Columbian Staff Writer