algae testing resumes on area rivers (Grant County file image 2021 )
algae testing resumes on area rivers (Grant County file image 2021 )

Officials say they are prepared to stay ahead of potentially toxic algae, which could show up in the Columbia, Yakima, and Snake Rivers this summer.

   Toxic algae testing begins again

According to the Benton Franklin Health District and the Tri-City Herald, testing will be expanded to include the city water intakes for Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick. Testing began this week for toxins.

Last summer, several dogs died after ingesting toxin-infested waters from the Columbia River. Officials tested for what was in the water and found upstream from the Tri-Cities and along the shoreline by Richland, anatoxin-a, which is a by-product of algae that can harm the neurological system.  Previously, officials had not seen this kind of toxin in the Columbia.

The Scootney Reservoir in Franklin County has seen a similar kind of algae in the last five years, but it's called microcystins which can hurt the liver, according to the Herald.

Most people have seen the blue-green, or even reddish murky or slimy algae that grow on ponds, smaller bodies of water, or even gathers near the shoreline of slower-moving rivers. But increasingly, these blooms can produce toxic waste from the algae or bacteria.

 Signs are being posted in areas where blooms are present

Signs have been or will be posted in areas where people should stay out of the water.  Moses Lake has also seen similar issues over the years as well and Bennington Lake near Walla Walla also had an issue last September.

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In general, these kinds of blooms or patches of algae and bacteria are a result of warmer or favorable weather and water conditions, as well as runoff from farm operations which provides some nutrients for the bacteria to grow.

Area officials have plans and chemicals in place to treat and ensure the safety of city drinking water in case we get more blasts of blooms.


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