algae blooms

Christina Belasco/OPB

Blooms of harmful algae in waterways have been more of an inconvenience in our region so far.  Generally, the blooms only stop people from swimming and fishing in their favorite spots. 

But across the country, the problem is growing. Salem had to renew its water advisory on Wednesday after toxic algae showed up in the city's water supply. Its previous advisory ended just four days earlier.

The Environmental Working Group calls the spread of harmful algal blooms an epidemic.  Oregon has had a program to track blooms and inform the public for years now. 

Christina Belasco/OPB

Most of the Klamath River (see algae map)  looks like pea soup of late.  A toxic algae bloom is affecting the river on both sides of the state line. 

Oregon ended, then reissued an algae warning for the Link River and the Klamath River above Keno Dam. 

On the California side, warnings are in effect for much of the main stem of the river and for Copco and Iron Gate reservoirs.

Agencies including the Karuk Tribe keep an eye on lower reaches of the river.  Craig Tucker and Susan Fricke from the tribe and Rebecca Hillwig of Oregon Health Authority's Harmful Algal Bloom program are familiar with the outbreaks. 

Toxic Algae On An Oceanic Scale

Nov 10, 2015
Wikimedia

Dead and dying marine animals are turning up on Pacific beaches, and the California officials are warning people not to eat crab caught south of the Oregon border. 

The blame falls on domoic acid, a product of blooms of algae in the ocean. 

This year's bloom might have been the biggest ever recorded in the Pacific, according to the Wildlife Algal-toxin Research and Response Network for the U.S. West Coast (WARRN-West). 

Toxic Algae Blooms On The Rise

Aug 21, 2015
NASA

  One bloom of toxic blue-green algae is a concern.  Two is a problem. 

A whole series approaches the realm of crisis, and that's where we are. 

Researchers at Oregon State University are taking note of the many--and increasing--incidents of toxic algae blooms, and the challenge they represent for managers of recreational and drinking water. 

Not to mention the challenge for all of us who use water.