Toxic algae closes Spanaway Lake to recreational uses, health department says

Toxic algae closes Spanaway Lake to recreational uses, health department says
Men stroll along Spanaway Lake in Spanaway Lake Park, Feb. 21, 2019. The lake was closed for recreation Thursday after toxic algae was discovered. (Peter Haley, The News Tribune)

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has closed Spanaway Lake due to high toxic algae levels.

As of Thursday, the agency is cautioning against swimming, wading, water-skiing or fishing in the lake.

“Test results show the algae contain toxins at levels that are harmful to people and pets,” a news release from TPCHD said.

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The lake has been under an advisory since May 15, but toxin levels have since increased across the entire body of water.

The health department will inspect Spanaway Lake next week. If the algal bloom’s toxicity has declined, the advisory will remain for two weeks out of an abundance of caution, the release said.

Toxic algae, also known as cyanobacteria, occur naturally in lakes, forming a scum layer on top of the water.

Symptoms of toxic algae poisoning include muscle weakness, vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. Exposed pets can show symptoms of lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions and difficulty breathing.

“See your medical provider if you may have been in water with toxic algae and have any of these symptoms,” the release said. “Small children are at most risk since they have small bodies and are likely to ingest water.”

Read TPCHD’s brochure to learn more about toxic algae.