Algae blooms in local reservoirs

Advisories issued for Viva Naughton, Kemmerer Reservoir; local drinking water safe

A dense accumulation of blue green algae was observed at the southeast shore of Lake Viva Naughton. (COURTESY PHOTO / Lincoln County Public Health) 

The Wyoming Department of Health has issued an advisory for Kemmerer Reservoir and Lake Viva Naughton due to higher than normal levels of cyanobacteria — harmful algae blooms.

According to a press release from Patrice Baker, the nurse manager for Lincoln County Public Health, the “cyanobacteria was much more dense at Lake Viva Naughton,”

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality experts tested the water before issuing the advisory.

Highly visible algae blooms are not unusual occurrences in still waters this time of year, especially when water temperatures have been high.

The dense accumulations of blue green algae can produce harmful toxins that may cause rashes or illnesses in humans and pets. According to the advisory, members of the public should not swim in the affected waters or drink the water straight from the reservoirs.

Randy Townsend, operations manager for the Kemmerer-Diamondville Water and Wastewater Joint Powers Board, told the Gazette that local drinking water is safe for consumption.

“This algae bloom didn’t affect our drinking water at all,” Townsend said. “The water is perfectly fine and safe to drink.”

Harmful algae blooms, like this one in Lake Viva Naughton, can occur in still waters when temperatures are high. (COURTESY PHOTO / Lincoln County Public Health)

Lincoln County Public Health said the contact with the algae or other cyanobacteria can result in rashes, hives or skin blisters.

“Human consumption or inhalation of cyanotoxins can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, numbness or dizziness,” the press release read. “Signs of animal poisoning include weakness, staggering, difficulty breathing and convulsions.”

If you think that you, your children or your pets have come in contact with the cyanobacteria toxins and are showing these symptoms, seek medical help.

Baker spoke with The Spur radio station Wednesday morning about the algae bloom advisory.

Baker emphasized that the advisory does not mean that the entire body of water is contaminated — only the parts with visible algae.

“Use your common sense,” Baker said. “If the water doesn’t look good, if it’s green tinted, if there’s a lot of algae or scum on top of it, avoid it.”

Baker also said that the algae in the affected waters usually dies and disperses once the weather cools off.

Fish caught in the areas affected by the cyanobacteria should be rinsed with clean water. The public should only eat the filet portions of the fish — not the skin, fat or organs.

The advisory does not mean that the entire body of water is contaminated — only the parts with visible algae. Local drinking water is safe.(COURTESY PHOTO / Lincoln County Public Health)

The public should ensure that children, pets and livestock do not drink the water or eat the algae in the affected areas.

If pets lick their fur after contact with the water and begin to display symptoms, contact a veterinarian.

Lincoln County Public Health said that Department of Environmental Quality experts are monitoring the cyanobacteria levels.

Members of the public who have questions about cyanobacteria or algae blooms  can contact Lincoln County Public Health at (307) 877-3780 or the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.