By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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FORKS — While it's not exactly swimming weather, Clallam County environmental health officials are cautioning West End residents to keep themselves and their pets out of 492-acre Lake Pleasant until tests can be done on what is thought to be blue-green algae.
“We're not sure yet, but that's our assumption,” county Environmental Health Director Andy Brastad said.
The county collected a sample of water on Wednesday that was sent to the state Department of Ecology for analysis at a King County lab.
Brastad said it will take about a week to get the results back.
“In the meantime, we would caution to people to keep their pets out of the water and to stay out of the water,” he said.
Blue-green algae can sometimes produce potentially lethal toxins that often result in summertime closures of 57-acre Anderson Lake — and occasional warnings in other lakes — in East Jefferson County.
Toxin-producing blue-green algae commonly found in Jefferson County's lakes are anabaena, aphanizomenon and microcystis.
All three produce the potentially deadly anatoxin-a, while microcystis also can produce microcystin, which can cause skin irritation and nausea over the short term and liver damage if ingested over a long period of time.
Lake Pleasant is located about eight miles northeast of Forks, along U.S. Highway 101. It has a a year-round open fishing season for trout and kokanee.
About a week ago, Brastad received a phone call from a sheriff's deputy who was asking about a greenish substance in Lake Pleasant.
“We were suspecting that someone might have been dumping something,” Brastad said.
“Yesterday, we were given a sample of the water out there and started checking into it.”
Clallam County environmental health officials have heard no reports of other county lakes affected by algae.
Until the Lake Pleasant lab results are returned, Clallam County will use Jefferson County Public Health guidelines for low-level toxic algae blooms.
The recommendations are do not swim in areas of scum, do not drink lake water, keep pets and livestock away, clean fish well and discard guts and avoid scum when boating.
For information on toxic blooms and human health, see www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/algae.
To report blooms in Clallam County, or for more information, phone Clallam County Environmental Health at 360-417-2415.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Managing editor Leah Leach contributed to this report.