Idaho News

People, pets urged to avoid algae in Snake River south of Hells Canyon Dam

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the Southwest District Health department issued a health alert Friday evening about a potentially harmful algae bloom on the Idaho side of the Snake River from about 10 miles north of Oregon's Oxbow Dam to the Hells Canyon Dam.

Recent samples taken from the river indicate high concentrations of bacteria-producing blue-green algae are present and may cause illness to humans and animals, officials said.

Blue-green algae blooms occur in waters with high levels of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen and they can release toxins into the water. The blooms are generally green, or blue-green, and may form thick, smelly scum along shorelines. The agencies urge precautions for people and animals around the algae bloom:

• Humans, pets, and livestock should not drink the river water. In addition, pets should not be allowed to eat dried algae.

• Humans and animals should stay out of the river. Swimming, wading, or other activities with full body contact of river water should be avoided.

• Fish should be cleaned and rinsed with clean water. Only the filet portion should be consumed.

.• If river water contacts skin or pet fur, wash with clean potable water as soon as possible.

• Areas of visible algae accumulation should be avoided.