WALLA WALLA, WA – The Walla Walla Department of Community Health (DCH) was notified by the Department of Ecology that cyanobacteria, otherwise known as blue-green algae, was discovered on Bennington Lake in Walla Walla. Cyanobacteria can be harmful to people and fatal to animals. Due to toxicity levels, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Walla Walla District, in coordination with DCH, has closed the lake to the public.
The Corps of Engineers is working closely with the DCH to monitor the situation. The DCH has taken and is processing water samples. Updates will be provided as more information is obtained.
In their toxic form, blue-green algae can kill pets, waterfowl, and other animals. They can also cause serious illness to humans. People or animals can be exposed to cyanotoxins by skin contact with water containing toxins while swimming or doing other activities in the water, drinking water containing toxins, breathing in tiny droplets in the air that contain toxins, or eating fish or shellfish that contain toxins. Exposure may result in stomach pain, headache, neurological symptoms (for example, muscle weakness, dizziness), vomiting, diarrhea, and liver damage.
Blue-green algae has been found throughout the region as a result of warm temperatures.
Bennington Lake visitors are cautioned to keep children and pets out of the water until further testing shows the toxins reduced to safe levels. All hiking trails are still open for recreators. Typically, the toxin remains in the water for about one week after the bloom disappears.
For more information, visit: https://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Contaminants/BlueGreenAlgae and https://www.facebook.com/millcreekdam/.
Release no. 21-062