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Avoid algal bloom in Chowan River: NCDEQ

N.C. Department of Environmental Quality officials recommend that the public steer clear of an algal bloom in the…

N.C. Department of Environmental Quality officials recommend that the public steer clear of an algal bloom in the Chowan River. Photo: NCDEQ

State officials are urging the public to avoid coming in contact with algal bloom — green or blue water — in the Chowan River in the Edenton area.

In a notice Monday, the state Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources officials said the bloom has lingered in the area since July 27. Officials said there were no reports of adverse health effects in people associated with the algal bloom at the time of the notice.

The bloom was observed near Edenton, from Arrowhead Beach to Rockyhock and Colerain. Algal blooms tend to move due to wind and wave action. Chowan and Bertie counties were affected.

The Division of Water Resources investigating the bloom and determined it is dominated by Dolichospermum and Microcystis, belonging to the algal group cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae. Cyanobacteria blooms usually appear bright green but when a bloom starts to decay, the color can change to a milky blue. Decaying algae may produce a strong, foul odor that can impact a large area.

Both Dolichospermum and Microcystis can produce microcystin, an algal toxin that may cause adverse health effects in humans and pets. A quantitative test detected microcystin in this bloom at 350 μg/L which exceeds public health advisory levels. A final report was to be uploaded to DWR’s Algal Bloom Dashboard.

The state Division of Public Health said the public should avoid contact with large accumulations of algae and to prevent children and pets from swimming or ingesting water in an algal bloom. The division suggested the following steps to safeguard against algal blooms:

  • Keep children and pets away from water that appears bright green, blue, discolored or scummy.
  • Do not handle or touch large mats of algae.
  • Avoid handling, cooking or eating dead fish that may be present.
  • If you come into contact with an algal bloom, wash thoroughly.
  • Use clean water to rinse off pets that may have come into contact with an algal bloom.
  • If your child appears ill after being in waters containing an algal bloom, seek medical care immediately.
  • If your pet appears to stumble, stagger or collapse after being in a pond, lake, or river, seek veterinary care immediately.

To report an algal bloom, contact the nearest DEQ regional office or submit a report online. To view reported algal bloom events, visit DWR’s Fish Kill & Algal Bloom Dashboard.

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Credit: Original content published here.