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Dog dies after swimming in lake, officials test beaches for toxic algae


By Tori Apodaca

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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, California (KOVR) — South Lake Tahoe officials are warning beachgoers about potentially toxic algae in the waters.

It comes after a woman claims her dog died about a week ago after being exposed to blue-green algae after swimming in El Dorado and Nevada beaches.

A caution sign at El Dorado Beach went up on Monday warning of the potentially toxic algae in the water, but it has not been confirmed that it is present or if it is what caused the dog’s death.

“It’s very concerning,” said Patricia Tamarit who was at El Dorado Beach with her dog Buttons on Monday. “You just always want to make sure that your dog is safe.”

The Lahontan Water Quality Control Board tested the water at El Dorado and Nevada Beaches on Monday. These are the two spots the TikToker said her dog swam in.

“I just got her out of the water right away,” said Jennifer Morgan who let her dog swim around for a few minutes on Monday until someone warned her.

Morgan said she did not see the warning sign posted before she and her pup got in the water. Even though it has not been detected, she did not want to take any chances.

“Every summer it seems to pop up and it affects certain spots usually where the water is warmer,” said Carson Oleson who works at South Tahoe Kayak Company on El Dorado Beach.

Oleson was born and raised in South Lake and said it has been a problem on their beaches practically every summer. He and his coworkers started warning beachgoers after seeing this new caution sign posted Monday.

“It doesn’t take a whole lot to be ingested to cause problems,” said Dr. Robert Poppenga, a professor of veterinary toxicology at UC Davis.

Dr. Poppenga said after ingesting contaminated water, within a matter of minutes the toxins can attack you or your pet’s nervous system and liver.

He said global warming may contribute to the algae known as cyanobacteria to appear. He said it is often from agricultural and nutrient run-off or stagnant water. Some believe wildfires also can cause the harmful algae, but he said this is not likely.

“Be aware of the look of the water,” said Dr. Poppenga.

Dr. Poppenga said the water will look too blue or green if it is contaminated. If that is the case, it is best to play it safe.

“She’s our baby and we protect her from everything,” said Tamarit.

The City of South Lake Tahoe said there have not been any visual indicators of the harmful algae this summer, but the Lahontan Water Quality Control Board conducts frequent tests.

The last sample was on June 11 at Connolly Beach, Regan Beach and Taylor Creek Beach. All the results came back negative. The City of South Lake Tahoe also said it did not see any visual signs of algae at Kiva, Commons or Kings Beaches.

The results from the tests taken Monday at El Dorado Beach and Nevada Beach will likely come back in five to seven days.

The Forest Service will post caution signs at Nevada Beach until further investigation and the results of the tests.

Lahontan also received a report from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency that the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection will go out today and sample Nevada Beach and the mouth of Burke Creek.

Harmful Algal Blooms can be reported and reports can be viewed on the California Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) Portal.

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