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Algae warning issued in Clay County as holiday weekend nears

St. Johns Riverkeeper
Via The Florida Times-Union
Pale green algae coated the shoreline and the surface of Doctors Lake in July 2018.

Health officials are warning of potential risks from blue-green algae in Clay County, the county's third warning in just over a month.

With the July Fourth weekend approaching, the Florida Department of Health in Clay County said this week that the public should exercise caution "in and around Clay County waterways."

Earlier this month, the department warned about an algae bloom at Swimming Pen Creek, near Whitey's Fish Camp. That followed an alert in May at Doctors Lake and Mill Cove.

This time, health officials warned that toxins were discovered in a water sample taken June 23. The Health Department advised people to take these precautions:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area. Waters where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that are common in Florida’s freshwater environments. Sunny days, warm water, still water and pollution runoff from land contribute to the blooms.

Blue-green algae blooms can be toxic to wildlife, people drinking the water or breathing the air nearby. Exposure can lead to allergic reactions such as skin rashes, eye irritations and respiratory symptoms.