Health department warns of potential toxic algae

Summer hasn’t even officially started, and already, the county health department is warning people of potential toxic algae in Lake Tapps.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department released a toxic algae advisory for the lake Friday, June 2.

“Most of the lake is fine for recreational activities; we are asking people only to avoid areas with noticeable algae,” the department said in a release posted by the city of Bonney Lake.

The health department generally checks lakes with advisories weekly until the advisory is lifted.

The lake is not closed, even with the advisory in effect.


The type of bacteria the health department is warning people of is cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae.

The algae has the potential to leech toxins in the water. Mixed with sunlight and warmer temperatures, the toxic algae can quickly spread in a body of water and create a toxic algae bloom, the department’s website states.

“Water with toxic algae can kill pets, waterfowl and other animals and cause serious illness or even death in people,” the department states.

Symptoms of exposure to cyanobacteria include muscle weakness, vomiting, diarrhea and nausea.

Lake-goers are advised to not play in areas of water with scum or drink any lake water.

The department also recommends keeping any pets or livestock away from the lake, and any fish caught in the lake should be cleaned well before eating.

Toxic algae blooms should be reported to the Department of Ecology at 360-407-6000.