Sunshine fuels algae blooms in state’s fresh and marine waters


OLYMPIA – Blue skies, sunshine and warm temperatures aren’t just making our lawns and gardens grow, they are also contributing to algae blooms in our state’s fresh and marine waters.

An algae bloom is the visible appearance of millions of tiny plant-like organisms in the water.

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) and many other jurisdictions are currently monitoring algae concentrations in waters across the state. Blooms are occurring right now in Anderson Lake and Lake Leland in Jefferson County, and in Waughop Lake in Pierce County.

Marine waters are also showing blooms in parts of Hood Canal and Puget Sound. With nice weather forecast for the weekend, people may encounter waters with visible algae blooms while they are enjoying the outdoors.

Blooms are naturally occurring and common during sunny weather.

Some types of blooms can produce toxins that can make people sick if they are exposed to the toxins. This is especially true for small children and the elderly. Pets can die after drinking water with a toxic bloom.

Other types of blooms may not be toxic, but they can be an environmental concern because when algae die, they sink and decay, which strips oxygen from the water. Aquatic life needs oxygen to survive.

Sometimes algae blooms look like spilled paint, oil or sewage. The public can report any suspected spill or algae bloom to the state by calling 800-OILS-911. You can also learn more about lake algae and sign up to receive emails about lake algae blooms by visiting Ecology’s Freshwater Algae Control Program Web site at: or visit King County’s lakes Web site at: