Toxic Algae Present at Tanwax Lake and Harts Lake May 1, 2013


TACOMA PIERCE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT — There currently are  toxic algae blooms in Tanwax Lake and Harts Lake. A toxic algae bloom is easily identified by the unusual color or appearance to the water. Usually a bloom makes the lake surface green, looking like pea soup or green paint, but sometimes the bloom is a different color. Wind and rain can greatly change the amount and location of algae in the lake. To help you make decisions about recreational use of the lake, the health department recommends you follow these precautions:

  • Keep children and pets away from areas that have a moderate or heavier amount of algae
  • Do not swim, wade, waterski, or fish in areas that have a moderate or heavier amount of algae

Swallowing lake water containing algae or prolonged skin contact with the algae may result in illness, such as muscle weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or nausea. If you know or believe someone may have swallowed water containing large amounts of algae, it is extremely important to seek immediate medical attention.

The risk to pets is much greater than the risk to people, both due to the smaller body sizes of pets and to a pet being more likely to drink water containing a heavy concentration of algae. If a pet does ingest a large amount of algae and is showing signs such as vomiting, lethargy, disorientation, or seizures, it should be taken to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Excessive nutrients from fertilizers, animal and human waste can run off into lakes and contribute to algae growth. Reducing use of fertilizers, maintaining septic systems, and properly disposing of pet waste helps improve water quality in lakes, streams, groundwater, and the Puget Sound.

For further information, please call Ray Hanowell at (253)798-2845 or Lindsay Tuttle at (253)798-3530, or visit our website at and search for “toxic algae”.


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