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Public health advisory issued for Newman Lake in Washington state

Test results taken this week at the lake revealed potentially harmful toxicity levels for cyanobacteria, otherwise known as blue-green algae.
water rescue newman lake 2

NEWMAN LAKE, Wash. — The Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) has issued a harmful algae alert for Newman Lake.

Test results taken this week at the lake revealed potentially harmful toxicity levels for cyanobacteria, otherwise known as blue-green algae, according to SRHD.

Based on the Washington State Department of Health's Recreational Guidelines, Spokane County and SRHD strongly advise that recreation at Newman Lake stop until further notice. No known illnesses have been reported among people or animals. In the meantime, weekly water-quality monitoring and testing will take place to detect any more of the cyanobacteria.

SRHD says signage at the lake will be updated once toxicity levels are within legal limits. Any one who chooses to eat fish from the lake should remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking, as SRHD says toxins are most likely to collect in those tissues.

People can experience the following symptoms when exposed to the toxins, according to SRHD:

  • Rashes
  • Hives
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • More severe symptoms affecting the liver and nervous system may result from ingestion of water. 

SRHD says if any of these symptoms persist, consult with your health care provider.

Newman Lake isn't the only lake in the Inland Northwest that contains harmful toxins. A public health advisory was issued for Rose Lake in North Idaho after a water sample from Idaho's environmental department discovered the same blue-green algae.

“We are lucky to have so many beautiful lakes and rivers to enjoy in our area,” states Mike LaScuola, SRHD environmental health specialist. “We just want to make sure that everybody is prepared to choose the safest location and avoid any risks to themselves, loved ones, and pets.”  

SRHD set the following precautions for residents choosing a body of water for recreation:

  • Pay attention to signage and do not swim in water that is under a health advisory or is listed as having a toxic algae bloom on the Washington State toxic algae tracking site
  • Avoid water that is stagnant, has dead fish or other aquatic animals in it, or contains large amounts of algae. 
  • Do not swim or play in water near sewer or other discharge pipes or in areas that are frequented by livestock or other land animals. 
  • Do not swim near or play in marshy areas where snails are commonly found. 
  • When in doubt, stay out!

More information on harmful algae blooms can be found on SRHD’s website

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