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People and their pets advised to use caution around Virginia Lake

By Miriam Hodgman

WCH_Reno_joint_logosThe City of Reno has been notified by the Washoe County Health District that people and domestic animals should avoid all contact with the water of Virginia Lake until further notice. The lake water is contaminated as a result of the algae bloom.

City of Reno Parks and Recreation staff is working with Washoe County Health District staff to post caution signs around the perimeter of Virginia Lake.

The combined drought-induced low-water condition, high phosphorus levels, and extremely low flow/circulation has created ideal conditions for the blue-green algae bloom. The presence of the algae promotes the growth of a class of toxins known as microcystins (also known as cyanobacteria/cyanotoxins).

The levels of the toxin were found to be in concentrations of concern for the public’s health, as well as for fish, birds, and mammals, especially when ingested.

“Due to the drought and the low level of the water in the Truckee River, the water can’t physically enter into Cochran Ditch, so we are unable to bring water in and properly circulate Virginia Lake,” City of Reno Hydrologist Lynell Garfield says.

Signs will be posted at Virginia Lake in English and Spanish advising the public of this information. In addition, this information will be posted on the City of Reno’s website and social media. The alert includes the prohibition of fishing, eating of waterfowl, consumption of water, swimming, or permitting domesticated dogs to access the water.

For detailed information about the water toxins in Virginia Lake, visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency website.

A Public Information Meeting regarding the Virginia Lake Water Quality Improvement Project is scheduled for Thursday, September 18. The meeting will be held at Swill Coffee & Wine (3366 Lakeside Drive) from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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