A news release from the Gallatin City-County Health Department reported on the detection of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Hyalite Reservoir and Elk Grove Pond Park on July 26 and July 27, respectively.
HAB and microcystin, a dangerous cyanotoxin sometimes produced by blue-green algae, were detected at the boat launch area in Hyalite Reservoir. According to the release, toxin levels appear to be low and water samples will be tested to learn the toxin level. Testing is being conducted as to how high the toxin level is. For this reason, a caution advisory had been issued for recreational use of the Hyalite Reservoir. At Elk Grove Pond Park in the Elk Grove subdivision south of Four Corners, an HAB was detected and testing is underway to determine the presence of cyanotoxins.
Not all blue-green algae varieties are harmful, according to the release, but some produce microcystin which is among a class of powerful cyanotoxins.
“Blue-green algae blooms often look like pea soup, grass clippings, or green latex paint. The algae are usually suspended in the water or appear as floating mats; they do not grow from the bottom with roots like other water plants,” the release stated.
“Children are more likely to ingest HAB infested waters because they spend most of their time wading in the shallow waters where algae can accumulate, and they have less control over how much water they ingest. Pets and livestock often drink from these nearshore waters,” the release continued.
In previous summers HABs were reported in Gallatin County surface waters including Hyalite Reservoir, Mystic Lake, Hebgen Lake and other small, subdivision ponds.
“Ongoing drought conditions and high temperatures could increase algal bloom activity in the county this summer,” the release stated.
A Gallatin County Health Office, Lori Christenson, was quoted in the release saying, “When in doubt, stay out! Do not drink, swallow, or swim in water that shows signs of a HAB and be sure to keep kids, pets, and livestock out too.”
The GCCHD asks the public’s help in reporting HABs to the department.
“Report a suspected HAB at www.hab.mt.gov or call 1-888-849-2938. You may also report a suspected HAB by calling the Gallatin City-County Health Department Environmental Health at 406-582-3120,” the release concluded.
As for exposure to HABs, GCCHD stated, “If you suspect a HAB-related illness in a person or animal, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 and seek medical attention.”