County warns of toxic algae at Lacamas Lake

Public Health says algae levels in lake decreased in late July, but were elevated again as of Monday, Aug. 8

Clark County Public Health has issued a warning advisory at Lacamas Lake due to elevated levels of cyanotoxins from harmful algae. 

Public Health has been monitoring harmful algal blooms at Lacamas Lake since early July. A warning advisory was in place at the lake for a few weeks last month but was lifted after water quality improved.

Results from water samples taken from Lacamas Lake on Monday, Aug. 8, revealed cyanotoxin levels were once again above the threshold levels recommended by the Washington Department of Health. Warning signs are being placed at public access points at the lake. 

Cyanotoxins can be harmful to people, especially young children, and deadly for small pets that drink the water. Health officials recommend:

  • No swimming or water skiing.
  • No water contact for animals.
  • Avoiding areas of scum when using motorized boats, paddle boarding, kayaking or canoeing.
  • No drinking lake water.
  • Cleaning fish well and discarding organs.

Public Health will continue to monitor Lacamas Lake and, while blooms are present, take weekly water samples to test toxin levels. Signs will be updated as conditions change.

Harmful algal blooms can pose a significant health risk if the cyanobacteria or toxins are ingested, inhaled or contact skin. Inhaled bacteria or toxins could cause wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Skin contact could lead to rash, itching, blisters and eye irritation.

If water with cyanotoxins is accidentally swallowed, symptoms could include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, numbness of the lips, tingling in fingers and toes, and dizziness.

Additional information about harmful algal blooms and current advisories are posted on the Public Health public beach website. To report algal blooms in other bodies of water, visit the Public Health website.