DHEC monitors harmful algal blooms in Cherokee Co. lake

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CHEROKEE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – DHEC is monitoring harmful algal blooms in some South Carolina lakes.

An algal bloom on a portion of Lake Whelchel in Cherokee County has exceeded the state’s water quality standards for microcystins, a type of toxic cyanobacteria, DHEC said. The Gaffney Board of Public Work’s (GBPW) issued a water quality advisement on June 29 and posted signs around the lake. 

They’re also monitoring Lake Wateree. An extensive bloom of Lyngbya wollei is located in multiple areas on Lake Wateree, located in Kershaw, Fairfield, and Lancaster counties, however, there are currently no exceedances of the State Algal Toxin standards in these areas.

Lyngbya has been proven to produce toxins, and this type of algae produces a mat of material on the bottom of the lake that can float to the surface, and it’s been found to be thickest in the shallower coves of the lake, DHEC said.

Algal blooms occur when tiny plant-like organisms called algae and cyanobacteria overgrow in rivers, lakes, and oceans. Algal blooms can be associated with foam, scum, or thick layers of algae on the surface of water, and they can look and smell bad. Some are formed by toxic organisms that affect the health of people, animals, and the environment.

“Harmful algal blooms are more likely to occur in the summer months when temperatures are warmest,” said Bryan Rabon, manager of DHEC’s Aquatic Science program with the Bureau of Water. “You can’t tell if an algal bloom is harmful just by looking at it, and some blooms can’t be seen because they stay at the bottom of a water body until they’re disturbed. A good rule of thumb is, if you suspect an algal bloom, keep yourself and others, and pets, away from it and enjoy the water in another area where the bloom isn’t present.”

If a waterbody looks discolored, has a foul odor, noticeable algal mats, or dead fish or other animals, it’s advisable to not enter the water or allow pets or animals near that water. Algae blooms can be very fast-growing and become an issue before DHEC has been made aware of them. 

If you or your pets encounter waters that possibly contain a HAB, immediately rinse with tap water and try to not let pets lick themselves before they’re rinsed off. Seek immediate medical attention if illness occurs, for humans or pets.

Visit DHEC’s Harmful Algal Bloom webpage for more information.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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