“It’s so important to check local health advisories and to know the warning signs that harmful algae may be present in the water.”
Nestled high among the Sierra Nevada Mountains at 6,225 feet in elevation is Lake Tahoe, a glistening blue jewel. North America’s largest alpine lake stretches 22 miles long and 12 miles wide, surrounded by peaks towering up to 11,000 feet. And here’s a fun fact: Lake Tahoe plunges to a depth of 1,645 feet, making the lake deeper than the Empire State Building is tall! With water temps in the 60s, it’s an invigorating place to cool off on a summer day. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
But Lake Tahoe, like so many lakes in the U.S., is prone to outbreaks of harmful algae. Every summer the lake’s famous blue waters turn a toxic blue-green in some areas, and the warning signs go up: stay out of the water!
It’s become an unwelcome summer ritual. School is out and families head to the lake to soak up the sunshine and enjoy a dip in the water. But microscopic organisms known as cyanobacteria love these warm summer months just as much as the kids do.
Commonly known as blue-green algae, cyanobacteria can multiply rapidly in warmer temperatures, when excess nutrients and pollutants are present, and form blooms in the water. These out-of-control eruptions produce dangerous toxins that can sicken people and pets, contaminate seafood and drinking water, drive down property values and hurt businesses, livelihoods, and local economies.
“Every year, there is an influx of reports to Departments of Health of upper respiratory irritations during harmful algal blooms. We also hear from the public about their dogs coming into contact with infected water and becoming very ill or even dying,” says Dr. Jessica Frost, Scientific Director, BlueGreen Water Technologies (BlueGreen).
“This is why it’s so important to check local health advisories and to know the warning signs that harmful algae may be present in the water.”
Early detection and treatment of harmful algal blooms is critical in reducing health risks and preserving aquatic ecosystems. BlueGreen analyzes data from satellites and images from drones to detect and track the progression of harmful algal blooms and target treatment.
“Our artificial intelligence and deep learning model can efficiently assess the level of toxic algae in the water,” says Eyal Harel, CEO, BlueGreen. “We can actually pinpoint where a bloom is about to form and recommend prevention strategies to ensure it doesn’t grow in size and intensity.”
Sadly, many lakes go untreated and efforts to monitor and track harmful algal blooms vary from state to state. So, your best bet for staying safe this summer swimming season is to know the warning signs.
TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY THIS SUMMER SEASON AND ENJOY YOUR TRIPS TO THE LAKE, FOLLOW THESE TIPS:
SYMPTOMS FROM EXPOSURE TO HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOMS INCLUDE:
SIGNS THAT HARMFUL ALGAE COULD BE PRESENT: