Unaware of warning: 'I was actually putting my family and self at risk'

DEXTER, Ore. - An alert about potentially deadly toxic algae in Dexter Reservoir went out on the eve of Fourth of July.

Don't drink the water, state health officials said.

Don't touch it, either.

That was Wednesday.

On Thursday, Debbie Conley and her family headed for Dexter Reservoir, unaware of the warning.

"We had a great day, lots of fun," Conley said. "There were a lot of people there with children, their dogs."

At the end of the day as Conley took her family's garbage to the trash can, she saw a sign on the ground warning of the blue-green algae bloom detected in Dexter Reservoir.

"My heart sank when I read it," she said, "thinking that a day that I thought was recreation for my family, I was actually putting my family and self at risk."

Brian Zenz with Oregon State Parks said the Army Corps of Engineers tests Dexter Reservoir for the algae, then alerts park headquarters.

"Here at Dexter Reservoir park and at Lowell park, we've notified the public by posting our orange algae signs stating that be caution be aware that the lake has blue green algae," Zenz said.

Conley isn't sure that is enough.

"In all actuality I don't understand why the reservoir was even open that day," Conley said.

Information about current algae blooms available via the Oregon HABS - Harmful Algae Bloom Surveillance.