Health advisories issued for Cave, Black and Hauser lakes
Panhandle Health District (PHD), the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe (for Black Lake) have issued public health advisories for Cave, Hauser and Black lakes in Kootenai County. They are urging the public to use caution when recreating in or near the water, especially where ingestion is a risk.
Water quality monitoring confirmed the presence of cyanobacteria, also known as a harmful algae bloom (HAB) or blue-green algae, along the shorelines of both Cave and Hauser Lakes (including the east end of Hauser Lake and at the public beach). The algae was also discovered in the entire water body of Black Lake.
Caution should be taken anywhere the water appears discolored or murky as HABs can spread or move with wind and water currents. HABs have the potential to produce dangerous toxins especially when accumulated in high concentrations. The physical appearance of these blooms can be unsightly, often presenting as discolored water, streaks or globs of scum and causing thick green mats along lake shorelines. Pets, children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are most at-risk of harmful exposure.
Anyone recreating in the area of these affected lakes is advised to take precautions to avoid exposure to lake water appearing to contain a HAB. Private domestic water system owners utilizing the lake as a drinking water source are cautioned that potentially present toxins cannot be removed by boiling or filtering the water. If contact (swimming, bathing, or showering) has been made with water containing a HAB, it is recommended to wash off with fresh water.
If people choose to eat fish from these lakes, it is recommended that they remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking, since toxins are more likely to collect in those tissues.
Symptoms of exposure to algal toxins vary according to exposure. Symptoms include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, and/or wheezing. More severe symptoms affecting the liver and nervous system may result from ingestion of water. If symptoms persist, consult with your health care provider.
The public will be advised when the concern no longer exists.
Updated information on harmful algae blooms in northern Idaho can be found online at https://www.deq.idaho.gov/water-quality/surface-water/cyanobacteria-harmful-algal-blooms/.