Friday, June 29, 2012

Algae Forces No Swimming in Lacamas Lake

Algae poses risks to swimmers, pets at Lacamas Lake
Regional Park, Heritage Park remain open; avoid water to prevent illness

Vancouver, WA – Clark County Public Health and Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation are advising the public to avoid direct contact with water at Lacamas Lake due to elevated levels of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) revealed by routine testing. Because exposure to cyanobacteria can cause disease, public health officials are recommending:

·           No swimming, wading or activities that involve water contact
·           No water contact for animals
·           Precautions against contact with water while boating or fishing

“It is especially important to keep children out of the lake because they are more likely than adults to swallow some water,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, county health officer. “We want to minimize the chances of illness from water contact so people can have a safe, enjoyable July 4th holiday.”

Please keep pets out of the water. Cats, dogs and livestock are at risk.

The health warning will remain in effect until tests show that cyanobacteria (blue-green algae levels) do not exceed World Health Organization guidelines. Public Health will continue to test the lake and will advise the public when water contact is considered safe again.

Lacamas Lake Regional Park and Heritage Park will remain open to the public. Water within the restrooms and shelters is unaffected by lake water and remains safe to drink.

Swimmers can visit the Camas Municipal Pool (see for information) or find other swimming options on the Vancouver-Clark Parks & Recreation website at

About cyanobacteria (blue-green algae)
A blue-green algae bloom is a rapid and massive buildup that gives the water a scummy texture and a green color. It may also appear bluish, brownish or reddish green. A bloom may appear during warm weather, usually between May and October.

Warm, sunny weather and pollutants can cause algae blooms. Possible sources include phosphorus and nitrogen, found in fertilizers and in agricultural, human and animal waste.

Some algae may contain toxins that can lead to liver injury, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In addition, the toxins can damage the nervous system and lead to muscle tremors, paralysis and respiratory distress. Skin irritations, allergic reactions, rashes and blisters also are possible. Symptoms may occur within minutes or appear hours or days later following exposure. If you have had contact with the water and experience any of these symptoms, you may wish to contact your health care provider.

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