Dangerous levels of algae bloom found at Lake Elsinore; people urged to stay out of water

People are urged to stay out of the waters at Lake Elsinore and Big Bear Lake after test results found harmful levels of algae bloom. 

The State Water Resources Control Board and Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board upgraded their advisory Friday from "warning" to "danger" to alert visitors at Lake Elsinore of the elevated risk.

Biweekly testing at Lake Elsinore found levels have contaminated the water, causing stomach illnesses.  People are urged to stay out of the water until future notice, that includes those on watercrafts.   

The State Water Resources Control Board released the following guidelines.

  • Do not let pets and other animals drink or go into the water, or go near the scum.
  • Stay away from scum, and cloudy or discolored water.
  • Do not eat fish or shellfish from this water.
  • Do not use this water for drinking or cooking. Boiling or filtering will not make the water safe.
  • Wash yourself, your family and your pets with clean water after water play.
  • If you catch fish, throw away guts and clean fillets with tap water or bottled water before cooking.
  • Avoid eating shellfish if you think a harmful algal bloom is present

Officials say due to the size and toxicity of the bloom, along with high temperatures, the bloom may proliferate and alter its potential to produce toxins.

Health risks include skin inflammation, gastrointestinal distress, headaches, agitation and weakness, and abnormal breathing if harmful algae blooms are swallowed while swimming.

Officials say dogs and children are most susceptible to exposure because of their smaller body size, increased potential to swallow water while swimming, and tendency to stay in the water longer.  

If someone is exposed, wash with clean water immediately.