Red Bud Isle reopened Nov. 22 at noon after scientists failed to find any visible signs of floating blue-green algae mats and water samples taken on Nov. 12 showed no signs of toxins.
Lady Bird Lake experienced a toxic algae bloom starting in July. The city’s parks and recreation department closed Red Bud Isle on Aug. 7, a decision that coincided with reports of dogs that had died after swimming in the water.
Ultimately, five dogs died after swimming in sections of Lady Bird Lake, according to a Nov. 22 city press release.
Dog owners who choose to allow their dogs to swim in Lady Bird Lake should be aware that another algal bloom may reoccur, per the release. The risk is highest when the weather has been hot and dry for an extended period.
People have not been allowed to swim in Lady Bird Lake since 1964, per city ordinance.
Scientists said there is still much they do not understand about the recent emergence of the toxic algae blooms, but they predict the problem will worsen in the coming summers as climate change exacerbates extreme weather. They said it is also increasingly likely that more cities and towns with stagnant waters and hot summers could find themselves in the same situation as Austin.
So far, city officials said they do not have a way to combat future blooms.
“We’re really kind of in an infancy in this field,” said Schonna Manning, a molecular bioscience professor at The University of Texas at Austin who studies algae blooms around the state.