State: Don't drink - or touch - this water

State: Don't drink - or touch - this water

DEXTER RESERVOIR, Ore. - Just in time for the Fourth of July weekend, health monitors report a toxic blue-green algae bloom in Dexter Reservoir southeast of Eugene on Highway 58.

Long story short: Do not drink the water. Or touch it, really.

Don't let your dogs drink it, either.
 

And don't count on government monitoring: only some Oregon rivers, lakes and reservoirs get tested for toxic algae by anybody.

Stay safe:

If you see an algae bloom, steer clear and keep your dogs on leashes to control their water consumption.

Here's the Oregon Public Health Division press release from July 3, 2013:

A health advisory is being issued today due to high levels of blue-green algae in Dexter Reservoir, located 20 miles southeast of Eugene on Oregon Highway 58 in Lane County.

Water monitoring has confirmed the presence of blue-green algae that can produce toxins. These algae levels are likely to be associated with dangerous cyanotoxin concentrations in the water that can be harmful to humans and animals. Swallowing or inhaling water droplets, as well as skin contact with water, should be avoided.

Drinking water directly from Dexter Reservoir is especially dangerous. Oregon Public Health officials warn campers and other Dexter Reservoir visitors that toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating the water with camping-style filters.

People who draw in-home water directly from Dexter Reservoir are advised to use an alternative water source because private treatment systems are not proven effective in removing algae toxins. However, public drinking water systems can reduce algae toxins through proper filtration and disinfection. If people on public water systems have questions about treatment and testing, they should contact their water supplier.

Oregon health officials recommend that people who choose to eat fish from waters where algae blooms are present should remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking, because toxins are more likely to collect in these tissues. Public health officials also recommend people not eat freshwater clams or mussels from Dexter Reservoir. Crayfish muscle can be eaten, but internal organs and liquid fat should be discarded.

Exposure to toxins can produce symptoms of numbness, tingling and dizziness that can lead to difficulty breathing or heart problems, and require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of skin irritation, weakness, diarrhea, nausea, cramps and fainting should also receive medical attention if they persist or worsen. Children and pets are at increased risk for exposure because of their size and level of activity.

The public will be advised when the concern no longer exists.

With proper precautions to avoid water contact, people are encouraged to visit Dexter Reservoir and enjoy activities such as camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, fishing and bird-watching. Boating is safe as long as speeds do not create excessive water spray, which could lead to inhalation risk.

For local lake information, contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at 541-942-5631.
For drinking water information, contact your local drinking water treatment facility.

For health information, contact the Harmful Algae Bloom Surveillance (HABS) program at 971-673-0400. Also contact the Oregon Public Health Division toll-free information line at 1-
877-290-6767 or Lane County Health Department at 541-682-3636.

The HABS program maintains a current list of all health advisories on its website. To find out if an advisory has been issued or lifted for a specific water body, visit www.healthoregon.org/hab and select "Check current water conditions."

The Harmful Algae Bloom Surveillance program is funded through September 2013 by a grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.