PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County commissioners approved an agreement with the state Department of Ecology to help monitor the toxic algae bloom in Anderson Lake State Park.
The agreement was approved unanimously as part of the commissioners’ consent agenda Monday.
As part of the agreement, the county will pay $16,666 out of the general fund, specifically from funds allotted to monitoring county lakes, to use as matching funds for a grant from the Department of Ecology.
The grant would help pay for the study of the hydraulic condition of Anderson Lake to try and find a way to manage the toxic algae blooms that have plagued the lake since 2006.
Anderson Lake has been forced to close every year since 2006 due to high levels of anatoxin-a, a nerve toxin sometimes produced by blue-green algae that can cause illness or death in animals and humans within four hours of being ingested.
The $16,666 from the county accounts for only 25 percent of the estimated $50,000 monitoring project. The remaining 75 percent of the cost is covered by the Department of Ecology.
“They’re essentially paying us to monitor the lake,” said Commissioner David Sullivan during the approval of the consent agenda Monday.
Sullivan asked for the agreement to be pulled from last week’s consent agenda because the commissioners were not clear on where the county funds were coming from.
Sullivan said last week he wanted to ensure the funds weren’t being pulled from county property taxes because, as part of a state park, Anderson Lake is not technically the county’s responsibility.
Anderson Lake closed in May this year after testing found 1.38 micrograms per liter of anatoxin-a. The state’s cutoff is 1 microgram of the toxin per liter. The lake remains closed and fishing, swimming and boating on the lake are banned.
Anderson Lake is tested monthly by Jefferson County Public Health, a protocol put in place after two dogs died in 2006 after drinking water from the lake.
Since the tests started, Anderson Lake has consistently been contaminated with high levels of the toxin. It even made history in 2008 with the highest levels of anatoxin-a ever recorded: 172,640 micrograms per liter.
While the blue-green algae that produces the toxin is naturally occurring in freshwater lakes across Washington, it isn’t fully understood why the toxins are produced or why it occurs so frequently in Anderson Lake.
Jefferson County Editor/