Toxic algae blooms popping up in Santa Cruz County

Warm water temperatures could be behind toxic algae

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Record levels of algae are being reported in some of the state's waterways. Three locations in Santa Cruz County are dealing with the rise in bacteria. This summer more green algae blooms are rising to the surface but it's not just the number of them worrying researchers, it's the toxins that it can produce.   

"We had high concentration of blue green algae and some of those species were toxin producers and one of those toxins, microsystin is a very bad toxin if it gets into the food web or water supply our animals our livestock can drink from the water and be badly affected sometimes die and so lately we have had very high levels," said deputy director of Southern California, Ocean Observing System, Clarissa Anderson.

Experts said it's clear that algae bacteria grows fast with warmer water temperatures. This summer state water officials posted warning signs at 30 freshwater lakes and reservoirs advising boaters and swimmers to stay out of the water.

"The algae is not good so I don't know how the ducks are surviving but I just catch fish for recreational catch and release," said Watsonville resident, Donald Carter. 

Health officials want the public to know if you take a dip in the toxic water side effects can be deadly. High levels of toxic algae have not only been detected in Watsonville's Pinto and Kelly Lakes but also in San Lorenzo River Lagoon in Santa Cruz. Scotts Valley resident, Jason Smith walks his dogs along the water every day and said he's noticed it go from clean to green. 

"A lot of algae, I keep the dogs on a tight leash and I don't let them down here. Fortunately there's a dog park right up the way and that's where I take them now. In the past I used to take them down here but not anymore," said Smith. 

Some of the side effects include nausea, skin rash, fever or severe headache. The county said it's working with the Regional Water Quality Control Board to see if balancing out the waters nutrients will help stop the spread.

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