Written in collaboration with Galen Buterbaugh, Lake Spokane Association Technical Advisor
In a press statement sent out last Friday, the Washington Department of Ecology said it is asking residents along Lake Spokane (Long Lake) to keep children and pets out of the water because of toxic, blue green algae blooms.
Officials have identified a toxic bloom of algae in upper Lake Spokane, between Suncrest and Nine Mile, that is producing high levels of the toxin, microcystin.
The blue green algae, which is actually a bacteria, has begun to surface on Lake Spokane, as it often does this time of year. When an algal species reproduces rapidly and reaches high concentrations, it is called an algae bloom. Blue green algae has the unusual ability to control its depth in the water column and moves up and down to absorb sunlight. As the day length decreases and the sun angle becomes lower the algae is found on or close to the surface.