Algae bloom releasing toxins on northwest side of Lake Padden

Lake Padden is pictured on Oct. 24, 2015 in Bellingham, Wash.
Lake Padden is pictured on Oct. 24, 2015 in Bellingham, Wash. eabell@bhamherald.com

Signs warn people to avoid the water on the northwest side of Lake Padden near the Padden Gorge Trail.

Tests found toxins – anatoxin-a and mycrocystin – in the water from the blue-green algae there, though not at a level considered unsafe by the state.

“The toxin level is not high enough to warrant closing that area,” said Tom Kunesh, environmental health supervisor for the Whatcom County Health Department. “We will continue monitoring the situation.”

Still, people are being warned to keep themselves and their pets out of the water as a precaution because toxin levels can change.

Another water sample will be taken Monday, though results may not be back until the following Monday because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The signs read: “Caution: Toxic algae may be present.” They also tell people to avoid areas of scum when boating.

They will stay up until the bloom has lessened and toxins aren’t found in the water, Kunesh said.

Most blue-green algae blooms are not toxic. But the algae can release toxins into the water that, in high enough concentrations, can sicken humans and kill animals who drink the contaminated water.

Learn more at nwtoxicalgae.org.

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea