Conservation News

Blue-Green Algae Bloom in San Luis Reservoir and O'Neill Forebay; Caution Urged in Water Contact
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contacts: Sue McConnell, Central Valley Water Board (916) 464-3291

Aug. 4, 2016 Gerald Heberling, California State Parks (209) 826-1197
SACRAMENTO - The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and the California State Parks are urging swimmers, boaters and recreational users to avoid direct contact with, or use of, waters containing blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) now blooming in San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay located in Merced County on the western edge of the San Joaquin Valley.
Due to the potential health risks, the San Luis Reservoir and O'Neill Forebay are now posted with health advisories. Water samples collected by the Department of Water Resources on July 11 and July 25, 2016, exceeded the trigger levels for the protection of human health from the California Cyanobacteria and Harmful Algal Bloom Network's Voluntary Guidance. Cyanotoxins in samples from San Luis Reservoir near Dinosaur Point Boat Ramp exceed the Danger Action Trigger and samples from the O'Neill Forebay exceed the Caution Action Trigger. Samples taken at the O'Neill Forebay North Beach swim area had toxin levels less than the Caution Action Trigger level. However, the public is still urged to use caution when recreating in this area as bloom conditions can change rapidly. For more information on the status of recreational activities at the San Luis Reservoir and O'Neill Forebay, the public should contact the San Luis Reservoir's State Parks Service (209) 826-1197.
We urge people to choose safe activities when visiting San Luis Reservoir and O'Neill Forebay and recommend that people and their pets avoid contact with water, including swallowing or inhaling water spray, in areas with algae blooms. Children and pets are particularly at risk.

This map shows the location of the Dinosaur Park Boat Ramp in the San Luis Reservoir where toxin levels tested above the danger action trigger. Danger signs are posted at this location and water contact recreation is prohibited. The North Beach Swim Area in the O'Neill Forebay has Caution signs posted limiting water contact.

San Luis Reservoir, part of the California State Water Project, provides drinking water to many parts of California. The State Water Resources Control Board's Division of Drinking Water is communicating with drinking water systems that pull water from the project, and is not aware of any drinking water impacts from the current algae blooms.
The algae bloom appears bright green in the water and scum or mats that float on the water's surface have accumulated along the shoreline and boat ramp area in San Luis Reservoir. The blooms can also appear as blue-green, white, or brown foam.

This photo taken on July 27 from the boat ramp near Dinosaur Point on San Luis Reservoir shows an upclose look at the bloom and mats forming on the surface. (Photo credit: Santa Clara Valley Water District)

Recreational exposure to toxic blue-green algae can cause eye irritation, allergic skin rash, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea, and cold and flu-like symptoms. Liver failure, nerve damage and death have occurred in rare situations where large amounts of contaminated water were directly ingested. Pets can be especially susceptible since they tend to drink the water and lick their fur after going in the water.
The Statewide Guidance on Cyanobacteria and Harmful Algal Blooms recommends the following for blue-green algae impacted waters: * Take care that pets and livestock do not drink the water, swim through algae, scums or mats, or lick their fur after going in the water. Rinse pets in clean water to remove algae from fur.
* Avoid wading, swimming, or jet or water skiing in water containing algae blooms or scums or mats.
* Do not drink, cook or wash dishes with untreated surface water from these areas under any circumstances; common water purification techniques (e.g., camping filters, tablets and boiling) do not remove toxins.
* People should not eat mussels or other bivalves collected from these areas. Limit or avoid eating fish from these areas; if fish are consumed, remove guts and liver, and rinse filets in clean drinking water.
* Get medical treatment immediately if you think that you, your pet, or livestock might have been poisoned by blue-green algae toxins. Be sure to alert the medical professional to the possible contact with blue-green algae and notify the local, county public health department.

For more information, please visit:
State Water Resources Control Board – Division of Drinking Water HABs Page:
Division of Drinking Water District Offices - Contact Information:
California Department of Public Health:
State Water Resources Control Board - California CyanoHAB Network:
CA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment: Information on Microcystin
US Environmental Protection Agency: CyanoHAB website

Decision on Eagle Lake Rainbow Trout Listing is Good News

The US Fish & Wildlife Service has made a determination on a petition to list the Eagle Lake rainbow trout under the federal Endangered Species Act. In a decision announced July 5, the agency found that "listing the ELRT as an endangered or a threatened species throughout all of or a significant portion of its range is not warranted at this time."
Trout Unlimited welcomes this decision, which is an affirmation that our years of work with local interests and agencies to create a roadmap to restore Eagle Lake rainbow habitat is paying dividends.
A prized target for anglers, the Eagle Lake rainbow has one of the most limited ranges of any native trout in the western U.S. - it is found only in Eagle Lake and its small tributaries, namely Pine Creek, in Lassen County, California. This species is unusual among O. mykiss in that it is adapted to highly alkaline waters.
The indigenous population of Eagle Lake rainbows has declined significantly due to decades of habitat degradation from a variety of factors, including fish passage barriers, small water impoundments, grazing, roads, and propagation of non-native brook trout.
TU's California Field Director, Dave Lass, said "Although it might seem counterintuitive to some, this finding is good news for Eagle Lake rainbow trout recovery and will enable TU and our Eagle Lake restoration partners to continue to work together with less 'red tape' to implement the strategies in the Eagle Lake Rainbow Trout Conservation Agreement."
Lass said while the Eagle Lake rainbow remains "at risk," the Fish and Wildlife Service's determination that a listing under the ESA is not warranted will actually help with species restoration. As with the agency's 2011 decision on the California golden trout, the determination that listing is not warranted is based on recent progress in habitat restoration and reversing non-native trout introgression, as well as a formal conservation plan.
Lass said the Eagle Lake Rainbow Trout Conservation Agreement will empower federal, state and local groups to accomplish the requisite field work, including large scale meadow restoration needed to ensure a higher base flow and longer "recession curve" in Eagle Lake tributaries, to combat the effects of climate change and rebuild healthy, self-sustaining lake and stream populations—something that hasn't happened in over 70 years.
A determination that the Eagle Lake rainbow should be listed would have required Section 7 consultation under the ESA on all restoration work that has potential to directly or indirectly affect Eagle Lake rainbow trout - a lengthy process that would cost more money, take more time, and potentially prohibit work that resulted in even "incidental" Eagle lake rainbow mortality.
Lass said, "At the end of the day, we care about accomplishing real change that benefits the fish, not creating more administrative hoops to jump through. This decision doesn't mean everything is okay with the Eagle Lake rainbow - it still needs help. The decision does mean that our conservation efforts so far are paying off, but also that much more needs to be done to recover this fish and fishery that so many anglers care deeply about. We are excited for the opportunity and trust bestowed in us by the public to lead these efforts."

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