September 17, 2018
Testing confirms reduced cyanotoxins in Morrow County lake
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has lifted the recreational use health advisory issued July 26 for Willow Creek Reservoir, located just east of the town of Heppner in Morrow County.
Water monitoring has confirmed that the level of cyanotoxins (harmful algae toxins) in the lake is below recreational guideline values for human exposure.
Although the advisory has been lifted, conditions can change rapidly due to changes in weather and nutrients in the lake. People should always be aware that blooms can develop on any water body under the right environmental conditions, and can grow and disappear throughout the season.
People should always be aware of their surroundings before entering a water body, especially around shorelines, shallow water areas, coves and physical structures such as docks, as these are areas where blooms tend to develop, officials say. You are your own best advocate when it comes to keeping you and your family safe while recreating.
People, and especially small children, and pets should avoid recreating in areas where the water is foamy, scummy, thick like paint, pea-green, blue-green or brownish red in color, if a thick mat of blue-green algae is visible in the water, or bright green cells are suspended in the water column. If you observe these signs in the water you are encouraged to avoid activities that cause you to swallow water or inhale droplets, such as swimming or high-speed water activities.
It's possible cyanotoxins can still exist in clear water. Sometimes, cyanobacteria can move into another area, making water that once looked foamy, scummy or discolored now look clear. However, when a bloom dies elsewhere in the water body, it can release toxins that may reach into the clear water. There also are species of cyanobacteria that anchor themselves at the bottom of a water body, live in the sediment, or can grow on aquatic plants and release toxins into clear water near the surface.
For recreational health information, to report human or pet illnesses due to blooms or cyanotoxins in recreational waters, contact the Oregon Health Authority at 971-673-0440.
For information about recreational advisories issued or lifted for the season, contact the Oregon Public Health toll-free information line at 877-290-6767 or visit the Harmful Algae Blooms website and select "Algae Bloom Advisories."
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