SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. – The North Coast Regional Water Quality Board this week urged people boating, fishing and/or swimming in the Russian River to exercise caution, as mats of potentially toxic algae have recently been discovered in the water.
Tests have confirmed that mats of potentially toxic algae are growing at the bottom of the Russian River. While harmful blooms are caused by algae or cyanobacteria that grow while floating in the water, some algae or cyanobacteria grow on the bottom of waterways and can form colorful algal mats ranging from bright green to dull green , orange, brown and brown. These mats can also come loose and wash up on the banks.
Sonoma County publishes “Toxic Algae AlertSignage in recreation areas based on statewide guidelines. As of Tuesday, warning signs have been posted in the following Russian River recreation areas:
- Cloverdale River Park Beach
- Camp Rose Beach
- Del Rio Woods Beach
- Healdsburg Veterans Beach
- Steel head range
- Forestville access beach
- The setting sun on the beach
- Johnson’s Beach
- Monte Rio Beach
- Patterson Point
The County and Water Board will provide regular updates on the California HAB Reports Web Map and notify the community when posts have been removed.
Children and dogs are particularly susceptible to serious health problems and should avoid touching any suspicious algal material in the water or along shorelines, the Water Board said in a news release. If mats of algae are observed, children, dogs and adults are advised to avoid touching or inadvertently ingesting the material. Dogs that have been exposed to the toxic material should be washed immediately.
The Water Boards recommend people practice these healthy water habits while enjoying the outdoors this summer in local lakes, rivers and streams:
- Consider all instructions on posted notices, if any
- Avoid seaweed and scum in the water and on the shore
- Keep an eye on children and pets
- If you suspect harmful algal bloom or toxic algal mats are present, do not allow pets and other animals to enter the water or drink or eat algal scum/mats on shore
- Do not drink the water or use it for cooking
- Wash yourself, your family and your pets with clean water after playing water
- If you catch fish, discard the casings and clean the fillets with tap water or bottled water before cooking.
- Avoid eating shellfish if you suspect a harmful algal bloom is present
“Get medical treatment immediately if you think you, your pet or your livestock have become ill after going into the water or accidentally ingesting mat material,” the Water Board said. “Be sure to alert the healthcare professional of possible contact with cyanobacteria. Also be sure to contact the local county public health department.”