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Watching for Algae Blooms

Photo courtesy jdearingdavis on flickr at
Despite drought conditions, Lake Austin's algae levels are within a healthy range while area streams show signs of low oxygen and excessive algae growth.

Officials in Oklahoma have closed some of the state's lakes because of blue-green algae outbreaks. The fast growth of already-present algae, paired with high temperatures and still water, pose serious risk to swimmers.

Austin lakes are within normal algae levels, but stagnant streams in the area are showing signs of faster algae growth. John Wedig is a senior aquatic scientist with the Lower Colorado River Authority.

“If the stream is fortunate enough to still have water in it, then there is probably a substantial amount algae growth going on," Wedig told KUT News.

Jill Mayfield with the Austin Water Utility says they frequently test the water supply from Lake Austin for potentially harmful critters.

“We’re looking for bacteria or elevated levels of blue and green algae and plankton and to make sure that we filter those byproducts appropriately," Mayfield said, "but that’s part of our natural treatment process to make sure that we have exceptionally clean water."

Mayfield says the water utility uses carbon and other methods to neutralize any odor or taste that may come from algae blooms and other bacteria in the water.