Toxic Green Algae Blooms in San Joaquin County Waterways

According to the health officials, the green and smelly algae that bloom in the Delta waterways are now considered to be toxic.

Recent hot and humid weather in San Joaquin County combined with low river flows in many of the area’s waterways have contributed to the rapid growth… of green algae blooms that may produce harmful toxins. The algae thrive on a mixture of warm water, light and nutrients, such as fertilizer run from farmers’ fields.

The algae have been a major problem this summer which prove taxing for fishermen and boaters. The toxins produced by the algae can irritate skin and when ingested can lead to stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Water contact exposure to these algae can also cause irritation to the eyes, as well as mouth ulcers. If the toxins are present at high levels, it can damage liver and nervous system.

Dianna Carroll, 50, from Lodi took a 10-minute dip farther north in the Delta, in the Mokelumne River, and later became nauseated for several days.

It’s really difficult to tell whether the algae bloom is toxic or not. Therefore, The San Joaquin County Environmental Health Department has posted an advisory and informed the swimmers, boaters and recreational users to avoid swimming, wading or coming in contact with the water in the areas where green foam or mat of algae is present. The Health Department also demands proper care for children, as they are at greater risk to get infected by indulging in activities like fishing, jet skiing and swimming.

However, this will be hard for those who live on boats. Breat Forsthoff, a boater, said, “I can’t even get out of my slip right now, because of the weeds and other stuff growing”.
Scientists also continue studying whether these algae are responsible, at least in part, for the decline of certain Delta fish species.


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