Updated July 17, 2019
The Southwest District Health Department has revised its health advisory for high concentrations of toxin-producing cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) in a stretch of Brownlee Reservoir on the Idaho–Oregon border. Visitors should use caution in or near the water from the area near Canyon Creek on the Oregon side of the river, downstream to Brownlee Dam.
More information about harmful algae blooms and recreation water-quality advisories is available at the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality’s website.
Summer is prime time for algae blooms, which occur in many popular recreation spots in our area. Some can be toxic cyanobacteria blooms, also sometimes called harmful algae blooms (HAB). These bacteria occur naturally in our region’s waters. In the summer, their populations can increase rapidly, and toxic chemical compounds may be released into the water.
Blooms may look like pollen, grass clippings, spilled paint, foam or globs of scum or thick surface mats, often along shorelines. While the blooms are often green or blue, some are white or reddish brown. They sometimes give off a foul odor.
Most of these blooms don’t reach nuisance levels or become harmful to human and animal health, but If you think a bloom might be present, or if you see warning signs, stay out of the water. Remember: “When in doubt, stay out.” That goes for pets and livestock, too. Exposure can bring on a number of symptoms, including rashes, hives, diarrhea or vomiting. Swallowing the water can bring on more severe symptoms that affect the liver or nervous system.
If you, a child or a pet is exposed, wash with soap and water, watch for symptoms and consult your healthcare provider or your pet’s veterinarian if symptoms persist.
More information is available on Idaho Power’s website under water quality.