Blue-green algae poses a problem

Health advisory issued for Fernan Lake

Print Article

JEROME A. POLLOS/Press Shay Saunders, 9, keeps an eye out for fish swimming under the dock Wednesday at Fernan Lake. The Panhandle Health District and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued a health advisory Wednesday after water samples confirmed the presence of blue-green algae that can produce toxins harmful to humans and animals.

FERNAN LAKE - As Larry Castro navigated his boat Wednesday toward the ramp on the west end of Fernan Lake, he had one comment:

"This water reeks."

It more than just smells bad.

A health advisory was issued Wednesday for Fernan Lake by the Panhandle Health District and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

Water samples confirmed the presence of blue-green algae that can produce toxins harmful to humans and animals.

People are urged to stay out of the lake. Don't touch it, don't drink it, don't touch a stick in it and let your dog chase it.

"The density of blue-green algae in Fernan Lake is likely to be associated with potentially harmful toxin concentrations in water according to World Health Organization guidelines," said a press release.

Kristin Keith, Department of Environmental Quality watershed coordinator, said the last health advisory for Fernan Lake was in 2008.

There was a small algae bloom about two years ago, but not enough for a health concern.

A combination of heat, light and nutrients, including phosphorous, brought on the first significant bloom in four years.

Such blooms are usually in late August or September.

"This is uncharacteristically early," Keith said.

DEQ received a phone call Tuesday from a person who spotted condensed mats of algae. Water sample tests found the lake posed a threat. PHD was called, and the public warning was issued Wednesday.

"The physical appearance of blue-green algae blooms can be unsightly, often causing thick green mats along shorelines," according to a PHD press release. "Often excess nutrients associated with algae blooms are caused by pollution from human activities."

Blooms can occur in waters with high levels of nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen under certain conditions, PHD said. Above average rain in June combined with rapid recent warming of water created favorable bloom conditions.

Keith said runoff from lawn fertilizer, stormwater, septic and sewage can affect the lake's quality.

"The whole Fernan Village is piped to Coeur d'Alene's wastewater treatment, so septic wouldn't be a big issue," she said.

According to the Department of Ecology website, "The total input of nutrients varies through time, depending upon land use and other factors. During the summer, nutrient input may increase due to fertilization of cropland, lawns, and gardens."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, humans who drink or swim in water that contains high concentrations of cyanobacteria or cyanobacterial toxins may experience gastroenteritis, skin irritation, allergic responses or liver damage.

Symptoms of exposure in humans are rare and include numbness, tingling, skin irritation and nausea. If symptoms persist or worsen people should seek medical attention. Pets and livestock should also avoid the area.

With proper precautions to avoid water contact, people are encouraged to enjoy other activities near the lake including camping, hiking, biking, catch and release fishing and bird watching.

"I wouldn't want to get in that water," said Steve Saunders as he watched his sons fish off the dock. "It (the algae) doesn't look too deep, but it covers most of the lake."

If people choose to eat fish from this area, it is recommended that they remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking since toxins are most likely to collect in those tissues.

Water quality improvements can be expected to reduce future algae blooms so the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is working with residents and landowners to implement nutrient reduction projects.

JEROME A. POLLOS/Press Blue-green algae flows between lily pads on the surface of the most western portion of Fernan Lake.

 

JEROME A. POLLOS/Press Larry Castro navigates his boat back toward the launch Wednesday on Fernan Lake.

Print Article

Read More Local News

TAKEOFF for LANDING

April 26, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press POST FALLS — Out of litigation and on to new life. That summarizes the status of the multi-use Post Falls Landing site with the just-completed sale of the 142-slip marina on the Spokane River and 1....

Comments

Read More

Cd’A may fork over funds for different types of public art

April 26, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press The forks are not named for a waterway or a highway intersection. They cannot be used to spear peas. The two oversized eating utensils, stationed along Fourth Street in Coeur d’Alene’s midtown neig...

Comments

Read More

Pat Acuff: A shy guy who loved real estate

April 26, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press COEUR d’ALENE — Everyone has at least one deep-seated secret. Pat Acuff confided that his secret is shyness. Shyness? Really? This is a guy who played for years in a popular rock band, is surround...

Comments

Read More

Wanted Cd’A felon arrested

April 26, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Law enforcement task forces on both sides of the border teamed up to locate and arrest a 28-year-old Coeur d'Alene man who is a convicted felon, had a felony probation violation warrant and was armed...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2017 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X