WALLA WALLA – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has closed Bennington Lake to the public following the discovery of cyanobacteria, otherwise known as blue-green algae, which can be harmful to people and fatal to animals.
The closure of the lake comes after the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health was notified by the Washington State Department of Ecology that cyanobacteria was discovered at the lake.
Both the USACE and DCH are monitoring the situation. Water samples have been taken and being processed. Updates will be provided as more information is obtained.
In its toxic form, blue-green algae can cause serious illness to humans and kill pets, waterfowl, and other animals. People or animals can be exposed to cyanobacteria by skin contact with water containing toxins while swimming or doing other activities in the water, drinking water containing toxins, breathing in tiny droplets in the air that contain toxins, or eating fish or shellfish that contain toxins. Exposure may result in stomach pain, headache, muscle weakness, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, and liver damage.
Blue-green algae has been found throughout the region because of warm temperatures.
Visitors to Bennington Lake are cautioned to keep children and pets out of the water until further testing shows the toxins reduced to safe levels. Typically, the toxin remains in the water for about a week after the bloom disappears. All hiking trails remain open.
Photo via Dillon Benitez, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Walla Walla District