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Algal bloom warnings issued for Lake Elsinore, Big Bear Lake

Algae bloom warning issued for Lake Elsinore, Big Bear Lake
Algae bloom warning issued for Lake Elsinore, Big Bear Lake 00:25

A harmful algal bloom has prompted a warning for a pair of popular summer destination for Southland residents. 

The State Water Resources Board and the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board both advised people to avoid the waters of Lake Elsinore and Big Bear Lake, as both showed a high presence of harmful algal blooms.

Those harmful algal blooms, caused by cyanobacteria, were identified by lab results and visual observations at Lake Elsinore. They can often produce potent toxins and are dangerous to both humans and pets. Those affected can experience skin inflammation, gastrointestinal distress, headaches, agitation, weakness and/or abnormal breathing if water is swallowed.

Signs were posted outside of each lake with a warning to lake users. The signs called for: 

  • No swimming
  • Do not let pets and other animals go into or drink the water, pets should be prevented from eating the scum on shore,
  • Stay away from scum and cloudy or discolored water,
  • Do not eat shellfish from the water,
  • Do not use the water for drinking or cooking. Neither boiling nor filtering will make the water safe for consumption,
  • Fish caught in the lakes must be thoroughly cleaned. Guts must be thrown away and fillets cleaned by tap water or boiled water before cooking.

Additionally at Big Bear Lake, a "Danger" sign was posted near the Carol Morrison Public Boat Launch, calling for lake-goers to stay out of the water, even when using watercraft.

Children and pets are especially susceptible to exposure to the harmful algal blooms because of their smaller body size. 

For those who have come in contact with the water at either lake, officials suggest seeking medical treatment as soon as possible, especially if any family members or pets have gotten sick in the days after. 

According to the State Resources Water Board, the algal blooms appear to be suspended on the surface of each lake, though winds and waves can move the bloom into other parts of the water. The bloom can cause the water to appear discolored, showing a bright or dark green and brown hue.

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