Lake Travis algae samples detect no toxicity; low levels found at Redbud Isle

Reports surfaced Feb. 22 of dogs falling ill after swimming in Lake Travis. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Reports surfaced Feb. 22 of dogs falling ill after swimming in Lake Travis. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Reports surfaced Feb. 22 of dogs falling ill after swimming in Lake Travis. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Algae samples collected June 22 from Lake Travis did not detect toxic cyanobacteria, also referred to as blue-green algae, according to a July 2 news release from the Lower Colorado River Authority.

The LCRA collected the samples from the Travis Landing region of the lake, where algae samples have tested positive for cyanotoxins, the toxins produced by cyanobacteria, since February.

In late June, samples from the area reflected a significant decline in toxicity for the first time since testing began this spring. Despite the continued decline in toxins, the results do not signal an “all clear” sign, according to the LCRA.

“There is blue-green algae throughout the Highland Lakes, and we expect algae to continue to grow as the weather gets hotter,” said John Hofmann, LCRA executive vice president for water, in the release.

In Texas, the hot summer months present a higher risk for toxic algae blooms, which can thrive in warm, stagnant water. As a result, Hofmann said it is likely future testing may detect toxins, and the LCRA continues to recommend all contact with algae be avoided.

“Don’t take a chance,” Hofmann said, urging community members to protect their family members and pets.

Notably, algae looks the same whether it is producing toxins or not, and conditions can change frequently, meaning a nontoxic algae bloom can become toxic.

The July 2 news release will serve as the LCRA’s final update regarding its algae monitoring at Travis Landing, which began in February after a dog died after swimming in the area. Moving forward, the LCRA will begin a new monitoring program in Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake, Lake Lyndon B. Johnson and Lake Travis.

The city of Austin has been grappling with its own blue-green algae issues, which date back to at least summer 2019. In light of recent occurrences on Lake Travis, Austin’s Watershed Protection Department has ramped up its monitoring program.

As of July 2, low levels of dihydroanatoxin—a type of cyanotoxin also dedicated in Lake Travis—has been found at Redbud Isle. Samples collected from Lady Bird Lake and Lake Austin on June 24 contained toxins, according to an update from the city.

Much like the LCRA, the department is recommending that dog owners do not allow their dogs to touch or ingest algae in any local lake, creek or water body. Additionally, individuals should avoid algae themselves.

This summer, the watershed department will begin a pilot program to tackle blue-green algae. Phoslock, a clay-like material that hinders algae growth, will be applied to over 20 acres of water surrounding Redbud Isle in three applications this summer.

Additionally, the department will continue its algae monitoring at sites including Lady Bird Lake and Lake Austin. Test results and other updates can be found on online dashboards, which can be accessed through the city’s algae webpage.

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.


A rise in COVID-19 cases has Travis County back in stage 4. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin reverts to Stage 4 guidelines with rising delta variant cases

As delta variant COVID -19 cases are sending more young people to local ICUs, The Austin-Travis County Health Authority has moved the area back to guidelines that require masks indoors.

The Reserve at Lake Austin is a senior living community under construction off City Park Road in Northwest Austin. (Courtesy Solera Senior Living)
Northwest Austin senior living community looks to January 2022 opening

New complex to have 120 living units and an outdoor memory garden.

Lakeway City Council voted July 19 to amend its budget and accept a grant to restore Liebelt Cabin. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Restoration of Liebelt Cabin has new source of funding

Grant will reimburse city for repairs made to the historic Liebelt Cabin.

Leander Marketplace PUD would be located at the northeast corner of Hero Way and US 183. (Screenshot courtesy city of Leander)
Leander eyes development with restaurants, retail; Bin Drop opens in New Braunfels and more top Central Texas news

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

Dozens of Austin residents spoke virtually and in person July 22 to share their thoughts on the city's proposed fiscal year 2021-22 budget. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Police funding again takes center stage in public hearing on Austin's proposed FY 2021-22 budget

Dozens of city residents calling into or appearing at City Hall on July 22 shared their thoughts about policing and the city's spending plan.

student learning
Leander ISD's virtual learning program exceeds capacity after recent interest

The program waitlist began July 21 with 101 applicants in its first day.

Mortgage purchase applications are down year over year, but the Austin housing market remains hot. (Benton Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin housing market still hot but showing signs of slowing down

Experts say that a decrease in mortgage purchase applications points to “a reversion back to norm” in the Austin housing market.

Peter Lake (left), chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and Brad Jones, interim president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, provided an update on state regulators' electric grid redesign efforts in Austin on July 22. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Regulators: Texas electric grid prepared for potentially record-breaking demand next week; 'once-in-a-generation reforms' underway

The heads of the agencies in charge of the Texas electric grid met in Austin on July 22 to provide updates on their grid reform efforts.

The Lake Travis ISD board of trustees reviewed plans for distributing federal COVID-19 relief during a July 21 meeting. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lake Travis ISD to spend $3M in federal aid to meet students’ academic, emotional needs

Among the stakeholder input, students’ social and emotional health emerged as the top priority for the funding.

Todd Dodge, Westlake High School athletic director and head football coach, announced his retirement the morning of July 22. (Courtesy Westlake Nation)
Todd Dodge, Westlake High School football coach, announces retirement

Dodge—a three-time National High School Coach of the Year recipient—will officially retire from the district at the conclusion of the 2021 football season.

My Steel Magnolia boutique opened in July. (Courtesy West Austin Chamber of Commerce)
Boutique My Steel Magnolia opens in July

My Steel Magnolia is now open in Austin's Four Points region. The boutique offers a variety of apparel, accessory and decor options.