High Levels of Biotoxin Found in Wiser Lake

by Categories: WaterIssue:

Recent sampling at Wiser Lake detected microcystin, a toxin produced by algae, at levels that may be harmful to people and pets. Toxin levels are more than 20 times the maximum safe level established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Residents are advised to avoid water contact at Wiser Lake and not allow pets to swim in or drink from the lake.

Caution signage has been posted at Wiser Lake since 2019 due to consistently elevated toxin levels. Recent test results indicate an ongoing health risk.

Ingestion of lake water poses the primary human health concern. Limited contact from boating or fishing is not a significant risk to people, but waterskiing, swimming or riding personal watercraft poses a greater risk since water may be accidentally ingested.

Pet owners are advised not to let their pets swim in the lake. Pets often lick their fur after swimming and may ingest toxins while grooming.

Microcystin can cause liver damage in people and pets. This and other algal toxins are naturally occurring, although human and animal activity can impact the severity of freshwater algal blooms. Nutrients in fertilizer, pet waste, agricultural runoff and wildlife waste provide food for algal growth.

You can learn more about harmful algal blooms at www.nwtoxicalgae.org or at www.epa.gov.

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This database contains the most current toxicity data available. All instances of values above the recreational guidelines are kept as up to date as possible, but values below the guidelines may be somewhat delayed in entry. Since there is a lag time from the date of sample to the date of analysis, be sure to check the sample date when looking at data or before you use the lake. Remember to use caution and avoid scums. “When in doubt, stay out!”

Your local jurisdiction may have more specific information about your lake. Questions? Contact Lizbeth Seebacher, lsee461@ecy.wa.gov, at Department of Ecology.

If a lake is not listed, it has not been tested for toxic algae through the DOE program.

To find more precise location information at the below link, download the toxin data and click the “view scum info” link.