Health advisory issued for Devil’s Lake
High algae levels found at Lincoln County lake
A health advisory is being issued today due to high levels of blue-green algae and associated toxins in Devil’s Lake, located near Lincoln City in Lincoln County.
Water monitoring has confirmed the presence of blue-green algae and associated toxins. The cyanotoxin concentrations found in the water can be harmful to humans and animals. Swallowing or inhaling water droplets should be avoided, and people with skin sensitivities or who are prone to rashes and other skin disorders should avoid water contact.
Drinking water directly from Devil’s Lake is especially dangerous. Oregon Public Health officials warn campers and other Devil’s Lake visitors that toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating the water with camping-style filters.
People who draw in-home water directly from Devil’s Lake are advised to use an alternative water source because private treatment systems are not proven effective in removing algae toxins. However, public drinking water systems can reduce algae toxins through proper filtration and disinfection. If people on public water systems have questions about treatment and testing, they should contact their water supplier.
Oregon health officials recommend that people who choose to eat fish from waters where algae blooms are present should remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking, because toxins are more likely to collect in these tissues. Public health officials also recommend people not eat freshwater clams or mussels from Devil’s Lake. Crayfish muscle can be eaten, but internal organs and liquid fat should be discarded.
Exposure to toxins can produce symptoms of numbness, tingling and dizziness that can lead to difficulty breathing or heart problems, and require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of weakness, diarrhea, nausea, cramps, fainting and skin irritation should also receive medical attention if they persist or worsen. Children and pets are at increased risk for exposure because of their size and level of activity.
The public will be advised when the concern no longer exists.
With proper precautions to avoid water contact, people are encouraged to visit Devil’s Lake and enjoy activities such as camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, fishing and bird-watching. Boating is safe as long as speeds do not create excessive water spray, which could lead to inhalation risk.
For local lake information, contact the Devil’s Lake Water Improvement District at 541-994-5330. For drinking water information, contact your local drinking water treatment facility.
* Water experts say that nutrients that feed algae blooms come from natural organic sources like decaying plant materials, wildlife and and other various sources of phosphorous and nitrogen + sunlight. Occasional occurrences of elevated levels of E Coli in Devils Lake is believed caused by not only upstream sources but also secretions into the lake from groundwater contaminated by hundreds of septic tanks around the lake – many of them failing or failed. Lincoln City and Lincoln County officials are considering septic tank testing on the west and east sides of the lake – examining septic tanks that are closest to the water’s edge and whose homes are high water users. Lincoln City officials have made it no secret that they would like to have all Devils Lake waterfront residents hook up to city sewer services to ensure that septic systems no longer pose a threat to the health of the lake.