KITTITAS COUNTY, WA - On July 21, 2016, the Kittitas County Public Health Department (KCPHD) was notified by the Washington State Department of Ecology of higher than acceptable levels of anatoxin-a, a toxin created by blue-green algae, in Fiorito Lake in Ellensburg. Water samples taken from the lake on July 11, 2016 after reports of dead fish showed 1.1 micrograms per liter (ug/L) of anatoxin-a. The maximum acceptable levels of blue-green algae toxins according to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) are 1.0 ug/L.
Warning signs have been posted on the lake alerting the public to keep pets and humans out of the water until further notice. Warnings will remain in effect until at least two consecutive weeks of test results show acceptable levels of toxin.
According to DOH, high levels of toxins can occur when a combination of warm temperatures, sunlight and nutrient-rich waters cause blue-green algae, also known as Cyanobacteria, to reproduce rapidly, or “bloom”. Some blue-green algae produce toxins or poisons. In their toxic form, blue-green algae can cause illness in humans, pets, waterfowl and other animals. Toxins from blue-green algae can also build up in fish tissues.
KCPHD recommends the public to:
- When in doubt, stay out! Do not swim in, wade in, or drink the water at Fiorito Lake.
- Keep all pets and livestock from contaminated waters.
- Exercise caution when considering eating fish caught in an area affected by toxins. Before eating, remove internal organs, which may contain higher concentrations.