‘Our 'new normal' is to treat all algae with caution’: LCRA confirms toxic blue-green algae still present in Highland Lakes

Harmful blue-green algae continues to be present within the Highland Lakes chain. (Greg Perliski/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harmful blue-green algae continues to be present within the Highland Lakes chain. (Greg Perliski/Community Impact Newspaper)

Harmful blue-green algae continues to be present within the Highland Lakes chain. (Greg Perliski/Community Impact Newspaper)

Cyanobacteria—more commonly referred to as blue-green algae—continues to be present in Lake Travis, and the threat to dogs remains high, according to an April 6 news release from the Lower Colorado River Authority.

The bacteria, which strongly resembles aglae, can produce toxins known as cyanotoxins, which can be fatal to animals when ingested. The specific toxins found in Lake Travis are called dihydroanatoxin-a and anatoxin-a, the LCRA previously reported.

Dogs can be at heightened risk as they tend to play along the shorelines and drink lake water or lick their coats after swimming, the LCRA said.

The LCRA first detected cyanotoxins in the Hudson Bend region of Lake Travis on Feb. 26 following reports that several dogs became ill and one died after swimming in the lake. An additional nine locations along Lake Travis tested positive for the same toxins March 12.

Further tests taken March 23 also confirmed the presence of the harmful blue-green algae on boat ramps at Inks Lake and at Cottonwood Shores on Lake Marble Falls.



According to LCRA’s April 6 update, every test taken since late February has tested positive for cyanotoxins, and the LCRA is strongly urging pet owners to keep their dogs from playing in the Highland Lakes chain.

“Our ‘new normal’ is to treat all algae with caution,” said John Hofmann, LCRA executive vice president of water, in the release. “We know blue-green algae is present in the Highland Lakes, and it is not possible to tell by looking whether it is producing toxins.”

The most recent test samples were collected March 31 from the Hudson Bend region known as Travis Landing. While the algae source continues to test positive for cyanotoxins, samples from the surrounding water did not exhibit toxicity. The toxic blue-green aglae also remains in Lake Marble Falls and Inks Lake.

The Highland Lakes continue to open for recreation; however, those who choose to swim in the lake should take caution and avoid algae. The LCRA confirmed algae toxicity does pose a risk to humans if ingested.

Notably, dihydroanatoxin-a has also recently been detected within the city of Austin, according to an April 6 news release from the city’s watershed protection department.

The city confirmed low levels of the toxin were found in algae samples taken in mid-March from the Mansfield Damn area of Lake Austin. Trace levels were also found in Lake Bird Lake.

“If owners allow their dogs in the water, it is at their own risk,” the release states.

The department encouraged pet owners to rinse their dogs with clean water after swimming in local water bodies. Additionally, if a pet owner sees signs of excessive drooling, stumbling, foaming at the mouth or other signs of illness in their pet, they should seek veterinary care immediately.

By Amy Rae Dadamo
Amy Rae Dadamo is the reporter for Lake Travis-Westlake, where her work focuses on city government and education. Originally from New Jersey, Amy Rae relocated to Austin after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in May 2019.


MOST RECENT

Lakeway City Council approved zoning April 19 for a housing development at the intersection of Flint Rock Road and Wild Cherry Drive. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Zoning approved for housing development on Flint Rock Road

Lakeway City Council approved creation of a planned unit development for housing development.

Early voting for the May 1 election runs April 19-27. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Here’s a guide to casting your ballot in the Lake Travis-Westlake area

Texas kicked off early voting April 19 for the upcoming May 1 election. From local school board to mayoral races, Community Impact Newspaper compiled voting information for the Lake Travis-Westlake area.

Early voting for Travis County's May 1 local elections opened April 19. In this file photo, voters line up ahead of the 2020 primary elections at Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex in East Austin. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
More than 8,000 Travis County voters cast ballots on first day of early voting

Early voting for the county's May 1 election began April 19 and will run through April 27.

Austin Pedal Kayaks is now open in Lakeway. (Courtesy Austin Pedal Kayaks)
Austin Pedal Kayaks opens in March

The company offers watercraft rentals including paddleboards, single and double kayaks, and pedal kayaks.

The Delco Activity Center in Northeast Austin is one of the locations where residents can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. (Jack Flalger/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin vaccine updates: Demand slows as state begins marketing push

Appointments are beginning to go unfilled, and local health officials say demand has caught up to supply. All adults in the U.S. are now eligible to be vaccinated.

Blue Corn Harvest Leander is located at 11840 Hero Way W., Bldg. A, Leander. (Taylor Girtman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Blue Corn Harvest opens in Leander; park, pizzeria launches social club and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Median home prices reflected a year-over-year increase in the Lake Travis-Westlake region in March. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)
Housing inventory drops in Lake Travis-Westlake region as median prices continue rise

The median price of a home in the Austin area hit an all-time high of $425,000 in March as the region continues to surpass real estate records, according to the Austin Board of Realtors’ March Central Texas housing report released April 15.

Photo of people receiving vaccines in a gym
Austin Public Health lengthens windows for vaccine appointment signups

Residents age 18 and up can now sign up for appointments with APH any time from Saturday to Tuesday morning.

The Texas Department of Transportation has scheduled a nightly lane closure for RM 620 southbound motorists beginning April 18 through April 22. (Courtesy Fotolia)
TxDOT lane closure scheduled for RM 620 beginning April 18

The right lane of RM 620 southbound will be closed due to utility work.

Bee Cave council candidates attended an election forum April 15 that was sponsored by the Bee Cave Chamber of Commerce and moderated by Phyllis Campos, general manager of the Lake Travis-Westlake edition of Community Impact Newspaper. (Greg Perliski/Community Impact Newspaper)
Affordable housing, transportation challenges emerge as recurring issues at Bee Cave forum

A Q&A session highlighted candidate views on the challenges around housing and transportation for service workers in Bee Cave.

Jack Allen's Kitchen will be at 1345 E. Whitestone Blvd., Cedar Park. (Rendering courtesy Jack Allen's Kitchen)
7 restaurants coming to Cedar Park, Leander; new murals to go up in Georgetown and more top area news

Read the top business and community news from the Central Texas area from the past week.

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations. (Courtesy Amazon)
Amazon begins rollout of statewide vaccination clinics for employees

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations.