Recent death of a dog underscores potential consequences
East County News Service
April 23, 2021 (Salton Sea) – The California Water Boards has issued a warning for people and their dogs to avoid water contact in the Salton Sea, located in Imperial and Riverside Counties. The warning is due to multiple Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) detected at numerous sites in the Salton Sea after a dog died following a swimming excursion there.
The Colorado River Basin Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board) has been conducting monthly water monitoring of cyanotoxin concentrations in Salton Sea. The toxins produced by cyanobacteria harmful algal blooms (HABs) can affect the skin, liver and nervous system of people and of dogs and livestock.
The confirmed presence of HABs around Salton Sea indicate the blooms contain varieties of toxic cyanobacteria, says Blair Robertson with the California Water Boards.
Based on Regional Water Board monitoring, warning signs will be posted in multiple locations around the Salton Sea State Recreation Area and additional locations around the area to alert visitors to the dangers associated with cyanotoxins. The Water Boards recommend:
- No swimming
- Don’t let dogs or other animals enter the water, drink the water or eat scum and algal mats on the shore.
- Stay away from scum, algal mats, and cloudy or discolored water. Algal mats growing on the bottom surface can be difficult to see from the shore.
- For caught fish, discard guts and clean fillets with tap water or bottled water.
- Don’t use water directly from Salton Sea for drinking or cooking. Boiling and filtering will not make the water safe.
Get medical treatment immediately if you think that you or your pet has gotten sick after going in the water. Be sure to alert the medical professional to the possible contact with cyanobacteria bloom and the Salton Sea. Contact the Riverside or Imperial County public health department and report an HAB-related illness to cyanoHAB.firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Regional Water Board will continue monitoring of HABs and cyanotoxin concentrations in Salton Sea and will inform the public when the HAB conditions and advisory level changes.
The public can assist with reporting any blooms:
- Fill out the Bloom Report form on the HABs Portal: https://mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/do/bloomreport.html
- Email CyanoHAB.email@example.com, or
- Call the HABs hotline: 1-844-729-6466 (toll free)
Even before discovery of the toxic algae blooms, the Salton Sea has been an environmental disaster. Since 2003, diversion of Colorado River Water has left the lake without a replenishment source, so the water level has been shrinking. The receding waterline has exposed residue from agricultural runoff including pesticides, as well as salt, industrial operations and other pollution causing some of the worst air pollution in the nation, as well as high asthma rates.
The state set an ambitious goal to restore nearly 30,000 acres of the state’s largest water body by 2029, but so far, the state has repeatedly failed to meet goals for dust suppression, habitat restoration and water replenishment.