People living on the lake called the Corps with concerns after noticing a scum forming on the top of the water near the shoreline, and rangers collected samples to be tested.
“It was intermittent,” says Sean Harper, the Corps’ Operations Manager for Beaver Lake. “There were places where there was quite a bit of it in a cove… and in some other coves there wouldn’t be any at all.”
The Beaver Water District identified the substance as a form of blue green algae, and determined there were no toxins present in the substance.
Bob Morgan, the district’s Manager of Environmental Quality says the water at the tap is still safe to drink.
“It’s a taste and odor causing algae which if you’re getting this taste in the water this time of year, that’s what it is,” he says. “It is perfectly safe. Once it goes through our treatment we are able to remove the algae from the water.”
Morgan says the blooms depend on variety of conditions, including water temperature so the algae can be visible one day, and gone the next.
“Either the wind has changed direction and broken it up and blown it out into open water, or the blue greens in particular can float up and down to find the right oxygen levels and nutrient levels, so they may be diving at that particular point in time and disappearing,” he says. “It’s not a very frequent event here on Beaver. I think we’ve had conditions this year with the low water and lots of sunshine, lots of heat, that have been really productive for algae.”
Although it’s OK to pull from the tap, Harper says you need to keep pets from drinking directly from contaminated areas, and you probably shouldn’t take a dip in the middle of an algae mat
“There is a risk of maybe a skin irritation if you are in a concentration of it,” he says.
Harper says the algae should clear up in the coming weeks.