Dome casings

Another consequence of the thermal dome of the Northwest? Lake crust

If you’ve been to a lake or pond recently, you may have noticed a rust-colored oily coating on the water. It could be an overgrowth of toxic algae. The state’s ecology department said it is currently testing samples from at least 20 lakes across Washington for algae.

Here in King County, Hicklin and Marcel lakes are closed to the public after water samples contained potentially harmful levels of cyanobacteria, better known as blue-green algae.

Colleen Keltz, spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Ecology, said the temperatures warmer than western Washington experienced this spring and summer during the “heat dome” are creating ideal conditions for the growth of bacteria causing the proliferation of algae.

“We could say it’s a local impact of climate change,” Keltz said. “These blooms start earlier and last longer.”

Humans and animals can also fuel the growth of algae blooms.

“Maybe a lake gets a lot more recreation around it, and maybe animal waste isn’t cleaned up,” Keltz said. “People are using more fertilizers and pesticides that are pouring into the lake.”

The state is currently monitoring six other water bodies after their toxin data returned above state guidelines, according to the Ministry of Ecology’s algae proliferation monitoring program.

Swimming in a lake with a toxic algae bloom can make humans sick and exhibit a range of symptoms such as headaches, skin irritation, and vomiting. It can also be fatal for pets.

Keltz said the state only collects data on water samples sent to them, and it’s unclear whether warmer temperatures are causing more cases of toxic algae blooms across Washington. compared to previous years, or the impact this has on ecosystems in the long term.

For now, the Department of Ecology is asking people to watch for algae blooms before swimming in a lake. If you see a splash of blue-green or red with the texture of pea soup or oil over the lake, Keltz says take a picture and report it to Dpart of the Ecology site.

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