State: Toxic algae detected in Dorena Lake; none found in Cottage Grove drinking water

Dorena Lake - photo by Kary Peters

COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. - People should avoid swimming or boating in Dorena Reservoir after tests confirmed the presence of toxic algae in the water, the Oregon Health Authority said Wednesday.

"Water monitoring has confirmed the presence of harmful algae above Oregon Health Authority recreational guideline values for cell counts," the state said in a statement. "Harmful algae at this level are likely to be associated with cyanotoxin concentrations that can be harmful to humans and animals."

Algae toxins are to blame for an advisory for sensitive groups not to drink water in the state capital of Salem, which draws water from the North Santiam River. A algae bloom was detected upstream there in Detroit Lake prior to the toxins showing up in the drinking water supply.

The Row River, downstream of Dorena Reservoir, provides drinking water for the City of Cottage Grove.

"Drinking water samples at this time show no detections of toxins," the state said.

The reservoir itself is another matter.

"Drinking water directly from Dorena Reservoir at this time is especially dangerous," the state said.

The toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating water.

The toxins are especially hazardous to the elderly, infirm, children and pets.

"Exposure to toxins can produce a variety of symptoms including numbness, tingling and dizziness that can lead to difficulty breathing or heart problems and require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of skin irritation, weakness, diarrhea, nausea, cramps and fainting should also receive medical attention if they persist or worsen," the state said. "Children and pets are at increased risk for exposure because of their size and level of activity. People who bring their pets to Dorena Reservoir for recreation activities should take special precautions to keep them from drinking from or swimming in the lake."

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