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Harmful algal bloom at Lake Elsinore prompts warning to stay out of the water



Children and pets and especially vulnerable to HABs

 August 16, 2022                                                   

 RIVERSIDEThe State Water Resources Control Board and Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board are urging fisherman and recreational users to stay out of the water until further notice at Lake Elsinore in Riverside County. Tests results in portions of the lake confirmed the presence of harmful algal blooms (HABs), which can be a health threat to humans and pets.

 Signs have been posted at the lake with a recreational advisory of “WARNING” to alert lake users of the elevated risk. Visitors are encouraged to follow the below guidance until further notice. 

  • No swimming
  • Do not let pets and other animals go into or drink the water and pets should be prevented from eating the scum on shore.
  • Stay away from scum, and cloudy or discolored water.
  • Do not eat shellfish from this water.
  • Do not use this water for drinking or cooking. Boiling or filtering will not make the water safe.
  • For fish caught here, throw away guts and clean fillets with tap water or bottled water before cooking.

 The HABs have been identified by both lab results from sampling and visual observations at Lake Elsinore. Cyanobacteria, a group of organisms that form harmful algal blooms, can produce potent toxins. Health risks include skin inflammation, gastrointestinal distress, headaches, agitation and .weakness or abnormal breathing if HAB material is swallowed while swimming. Dogs and children are most susceptible to exposure because of their smaller body size, increased potential to swallow water while swimming, and tendency to stay in the water longer. If you suspect exposure, wash your children and dog immediately.

 The bloom in the lake appears suspended on the water’s surface. Bloom conditions can change rapidly, as the winds and waves move or concentrate the bloom into different regions of the lake. In some areas, the bloom may concentrate and form a film or scum on the water surface. The color of the water may also appear discolored as bright or dark green and brown. 

 The City of Lake Elsinore has posted advisory signs to notify recreational users of the bloom. City of Lake Elsinore and the Water Boards will provide regular updates to inform the community when postings are removed on the California HAB Reports Web Map.

 The Water Boards recommend that people practice healthy water habits while enjoying the outdoors this summer at your local lake, river or stream: 

  • Heed all instructions on posted advisories if present 
  • Avoid algae and scum in the water and on the shore 
  • Keep an eye on children and pets 
  • If you think a harmful algal bloom or toxic algal mats are present, do not let pets and other animals go into or drink the water or eat scum/algal mats on the shore 
  • Don’t drink the water or use it for cooking 
  • Wash yourself, your family and your pets with clean water after water play 
  • If you catch fish, throw away guts and clean fillets with tap water or bottled water    before cooking 
  • Avoid eating shellfish if you think a harmful algal bloom is present 

Get medical treatment immediately if you think that you, your pet, or livestock has gotten sick after going in the water. Be sure to alert the medical professional to the possible contact with cyanobacteria. Also, make sure to contact the local county public health department.  

For more information about HABs, please visit: 

California Harmful Algal Blooms Portal