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Delta Swimmers, Pets Warned To Stay Out Of Water Due To Toxic Algae Bloom

DISCOVERY BAY (CBS SF) -- The dog days of summer are going to be pretty rough for folks trying to stay cool near the Delta.

Contra Costa County health officials are warning residents to stay out of the water because of a toxic blue-green algae bloom.

Most of the people in Discovery Bay moved there to enjoy a lifestyle on the water. Now they'll have to heed a warning about what's in the water.

Marilyn Underwood is the county's Environmental Health Director.

"We're asking folks to stay out of the water in Discovery Bay and keep their pets out of the water until we know more about the levels of blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria that we're finding there," says Underwood.

Delta, recreational boat, levee
Boaters play in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

The goopy, green algae releases toxins harmful to dogs and small children, and has closed down a number of Bay Area lakes. Now it has taken up residence in the backyard boating channels of the Delta community.

The kids who used to swim here say they wouldn't try it now even if it wasn't toxic.

"If you come out of the water it just, like, sticks on you and then falls off all slimy …it's nasty," said 11-year-old Edgar Ortiz.

The county may have just discovered it, but "Captain" Frank Morgan called authorities last summer. He runs Delta Adventures and saw it when he was out on his cruise boat.

"(I) said, hey, you got something in the water. I see the water every day and this looks different," says Morgan. "It almost looked like there were boaters dumping waste tanks in the marina."

The algae also makes a mess of anything that floats in the water. That's great for the bottom line of Nick Chamberlain's boat cleaning service. Unfortunately, it also means he has to swim around in the green goop.

"The thing that I do is make sure I shower off really well afterwards," says Chamberlain, adding, "and don't drink the water."

So far, there are no reports of anyone in Discovery Bay getting sick from the algae. Still, County Health advise it's best to just stay out of it altogether.

They hope the Delta's natural conditions will eventually kill off the algae since there is no way to treat the water. If not, it could be here to stay.


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