Charleston Water System (CWS) and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) identified blue-green algae at a count high enough to constitute a bloom in Goose Creek Reservoir in Hanahan. This type of algae is capable of producing toxins which pose a risk for recreational use and are dangerous for pets if ingested. While the presence of toxins has not been confirmed, caution is advised when interacting with the reservoir and the utility and SCDHEC suggest that people and pets avoid it until further notice.
SCDHEC is testing to determine if toxins are present and results will be available next week. CWS drinking water remains completely safe, as the Goose Creek Reservoir is not used as a drinking water source.
If SCDHEC detects toxins, information will be posted to the Harmful Algal Bloom page on their website at https://scdhec.gov/environment/your-water-coast/harmful-algal-blooms. The agency and CWS will also take additional steps to notify the public.
It’s important to heed this caution because you can’t tell if a bloom is harmful just by looking at it. People and pets can get sick when they contact a harmful algal bloom by:
– Swimming, kayaking, fishing, or wading through water.
– Breathing in tiny water droplets or mist that contains algal toxins.
– Drinking water affected by a harmful algal bloom
– Pets licking their fur after swimming.
– Eating seafood (fish or shellfish) affected by a harmful algal bloom.
Not all algae blooms are harmful. They can occur when the temperature increases in a body of water during warmer months, especially when excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are present. Algae blooms are self-eliminating once excess nutrients within the water are consumed by the algae.
Residents and businesses can help reduce the risk of algae blooms by performing careful application of fertilizers and following all directions on the container. Preventing soil erosion into ditches and creeks that feed water bodies is also critical.
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