Austin resumes monitoring for harmful algae in Lady Bird Lake

Talk 1370 Newsroom
July 11, 2020 - 9:18 am
Lady Bird Lake

AUSTIN ( -- Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, city officials are sounding the alarm on a returning problem from last year - toxic algae on Lady Bird Lake.

Last summer, at least five dogs died after swimming in Lady Bird Lake due to a toxic algae bloom. Crews with the city's Watershed Protection Department have resumed weekly monitoring of algae from four locations on the lake, including Red Bud Isle, Vic Mathias Shores, Festival Beach, and the mouth of Barton Creek. Warm water, low flow through the lake and high levels of nutrients make the harmful algae blooms more likely.


The first samples were collected on Thursday; testing results should be available next week, according to the city.

The city recommends that dog owners use caution in the summer and fall, and take the following precautions:

  • Check for the latest information before taking dogs to the lake
  • Avoid areas with floating mats of algae or stagnant areas of the lake
  • Rinse your dogs after contact with Lady Bird Lake to help prevent them from licking algae off their fur

The city says dog owners should take their pets to a veterinarian immediately if their dogs become sick after swimming in Lady Bird Lake. Some of the symptoms of exposure include:

  • Excessive drooling, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Jaundice and hepatomegaly
  • Blood in urine or dark urine
  • Stumbling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Photosensitization in recovering animals
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Progression of muscle twitches
  • Respiratory paralysis

The city has placed warning signs at six locations around the lake. If the test results come back with signs of toxic algae, the city will place additional signage at the same locations.

So far, city officials say there appears to be little risk to people, and boating and fishing is encouraged while following coronavirus restrictions. Human swimming in Lady Bird Lake has been prohibited since 1964.

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