Toxic Algae Detected in Green Lake; Swimming Beaches Remains Open

August 23, 2014 9:16am

Toxic algae has been found in Green Lake, but before you start to snarl in disgust, here’s what you should know:

  • The lake is regularly tested. King County Department of Natural Resources detected the algae as part of their weekly test. The test has been reviewed by Public Health of Seattle & King County and Public Health did not recommend a closure because the toxins are only found in the scummy algae that accumulate near some of the lake shore.
  • The beaches are open. The swimming beaches are still open because the algae scum has not been spotted in swimming areas. The Parks Dept tells us that the scum is highly visible in areas and people should be able to detect it. While Public Health says the Lake is currently safe for swimming (in the designated beaches) people and pets should not wade or play in the lake where the scum has accumulated. Dog owners should take extreme caution and not allow dogs to drink from the lake. (If they do, make sure to rinse with water to remove all algae.)
  • This happens… frequently. Algae blooms occur naturally but when they get bad, the lake will close. Intense algae blooms of blue-green algae have occurred in Green Lake since 1916, according to the Seattle Parks Department.  The lake was closed in 1999, 2002, 2003, 2012 and recently in fall 2013 for toxic algae blooms.
  • This happens because of our hot summer. According to the Seattle Parks Dept., “a warm, dry summer has prompted the algae bloom and continued warm weather continues to promote it. Blooms have been known to last into November in particularly warm autumns, and typically disappear as the weather gets colder.”
  • Ongoing testing is being conducted. If the situations worsens, we will let you know!

Want to know more about toxic algae, go to Washington State’s Toxic Algae site. (Friendly disclaimer: if you are a person that gets squeamish on sites like WebMD, maybe avoid this site.)