State water officials warn of toxic algae ahead of Fourth of July weekend
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Are you heading out to any of our lakes to cool down this Fourth of July? You may find a green, slimy, and smelly substance invading the water.
Chances are, it’s toxic algae.
When in doubt, stay out – that’s the warning from state water officials.
“In New Mexico, a bloom of blue-green algae can produce toxins or poisons that can cause serious illnesses to people and animals, and in rare cases, can be deadly,” said Meredith Zeigler, with the New Mexico Surface Water Quality Bureau.
Harmful algal blooms smell like rotten eggs and leave a blue-green film on the surface of the water.
Though there are no active advisories now, state water officials are expecting these blooms to happen.
“There are usually several reports per year in New Mexico,” Zeigler said. “They are becoming increasingly common in New Mexico’s lakes and reservoirs, especially during peak summer temperatures.”
Swimming in or swallowing infested water can get someone seriously sick.
“Numb lips, tingling fingers and toes, dizziness, and sometimes even death,” Zeigler said.
Those dangers could also impact your pets or the fish that you catch in infested waters.
“If you decide to eat fish caught from waters, definitely don’t eat the skin or fat or the organs, and cook them very carefully,” Zeigler said.
Signs would be posted by the lake if there is a known bloom in the area. However, just because it is not posted, doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.
“If you notice a bloom, please report it to the managing agencies so that they can further investigate and follow up and keep the public informed and safe,” Zeigler said.
State officials do want to note that not all algae is bad. Harmful algae will change the color or odor of the lake in areas where there is a bloom.