Friday, July 29, 2011
CULLABY LAKE WATER ADVISORY REMAINS; PARKS OPEN TO PUBLIC
Two public parks on the shore of Cullaby Lake remain open to the public despite the ongoing health advisory over algae in the lake.
Clatsop County officials, in cooperation with the Oregon Public Health Division, continue to monitor the blue-green algae bloom at Cullaby Lake near Warrenton. As of Thursday, July 28, the health advisory remains in effect for the lake, and the public is advised to avoid all contact with the lake’s water.
The county and state issued a health warning for the lake July 1 after water sampling – prompted by the growth of bluish-green scum on the lake surface – confirmed the presence of cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, are a type of organism commonly found in freshwater bodies around the world. The two species identified in Cullaby Lake, Anabaena and Aphanizomenon, are known to release neuro and liver toxins that can be harmful to humans and animals.
Water samples were collected Wednesday, July 27 and sent to a lab for analysis of toxin levels and cell concentrations. Results from the tests are expected next week.
Under the Oregon State Harmful Algae Bloom Surveillance Program, health advisories may be lifted one week after water tests show both a lower cell concentration of the cyanobacteria toxin species and zero toxins in the water.
While the health advisory remains in effect, people should avoid any contact with the lake water. In particular, swallowing or inhaling the water may be extremely harmful, especially for children and pets.
Symptoms of exposure can include numbness, tingling and dizziness that can lead to difficulty breathing and heart problems and require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of skin irritation, weakness, diarrhea, nausea, cramps and fainting should also receive medical attention if they persist or worsen.
Although the toxins released by the algae are likely to be concentrated near the actual blooms, the health advisory covers the entire lake, as changes in wind can quickly push the algae to different locations in a matter of minutes.
Shellfish from the lake should not be consumed. Fish caught in the lake may be eaten, but care should be taken to remove skin, fat and organs, where the toxins accumulate, before cooking. Crawfish muscle may also be eaten, but organs and fat should be discarded.
According to the state Harmful Algae Bloom Surveillance Program, the blooms occur when a combination of factors – warm weather, stagnant water, infusion of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous, and invasive species – create ideal conditions for the organism to flourish.
The state health division has no records of previous algae-related health warnings at Cullaby Lake, but a copy of the “Atlas of Oregon Lakes” from the early 1980s describes frequent summertime blue-green algae blooms that occurred at the lake.
Although the warning against water contact is still in effect, Cullaby Lake County Park and Carnahan County Park remain open to the public to enjoy picnicking, hiking and other activities. Boating is even allowed, but boaters are advised to maintain low speeds to avoid causing spray that could be inhaled.
For more information contact the Harmful Algae Bloom Surveillance program at (971) 673-0400 or www.healthoregon.org/hab; call the Oregon Public Health Division’s toll-free information line at 1-877-290-6767; or call the Clatsop County Public Health Department at (503) 325-8500.
PHOTO CAPTION: Blue-green algae visible on the surface of Cullaby Lake July 20.
Community Relations Coordinator