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Earlier than normal toxic algae blooms bring safety concerns for SoCal residents

Toxic algae blooms create unsafe water condition for humans and pets across SoCal
Toxic algae blooms create unsafe water condition for humans and pets across SoCal 02:30

Several Southern California lakes are being impacted by earlier than normal toxic algae blooms that could cause serious harm to humans and animals alike. 

Experts say that the natural algae blooms are starting earlier than ever, and lasting even longer, for a number of reasons, including climate change that increases water temperatures, carbon dioxide and UV light. 

Additionally, several unusually wet winters have filled local reservoirs to historic levels, helping stir up nutrients that were previously settled at the bottom. 

So far, bodies of water like Lake Elsinore, Puddingstone Lake in San Dimas, Silverwood Lake in San Bernardino County and Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet have all had cyanobacteria detected in their waters, prompting a slew of warnings for residents and visitors. 

The naturally occurring blue-green algae can cause a slew of distressing symptoms, including mouth ulcers, vomiting and diarrhea. It can be especially dangerous for pets since they tend to drink the water and lick their wet fur afterward.  

In Lake Elsinore on Friday, dead fish could be seen floating in the scum on the outskirts of the water, just months after city officials boasted of cleaner waters and record water levels. 

"February and March and even April, the lake was crystal clear," said Adam Gufarotti, a spokesperson for the city. "We were seeing visibility of over 16 feet, which is amazing, but as the temps warm up, we get more and more algae."

Even with the new warnings, that advise people to remain away from the water because of the potential danger, Lake Elsinore is urging people to visit their area as they continue to make big changes to keep the destination safe. 

They invested in a $2 million dollar device called a nano-bubbler, that infuses the lake with oxygen. The water is also routinely treated with algaecide and tested regularly out of an abundance of caution. 

Still, some visitors are being cautious about entering the water. 

"I might go out in a boat, but I don't think I'm gonna be taking a dip," said Rick Stark. 

A full list of water warnings in California can be found here

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