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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

More bad news for Kern County - parts of Lake Isabella and Kern River unsafe for people and pets

Things continue to get worse for Kern County's water environments with the news today that parts of Lake Isabella and the mighty Kern River may be unsafe to enter.

Only a week after declaring Lake Ming in Bakersfield unsafe for human contact, the Kern County Public Health Services Department issued a cautionary notice today for Kissack Cove at Lake Isabella and that portion of the Kern River that contains the Keyesville Recreation Area and the Calloway Weir Area.

Lake Isabella, Photo Credit: ©Frank Maccioli

The reason for the notice: potentially harmful blue-green algae (cyanobacteria). The algae bloom is characterized as having a bright green color with streaks that look like spilled paint. They can also appear as floating foam, scum, or mats with a blue-green, white, or brown color. 

Exposure to the algae can cause rashes, allergic reactions, irritation, and gastrointestinal problems. At high levels, serious illness and death are a possibility. Additionally, animals exposed to it can suffer diarrhea, vomiting, convulsions, and death.

The algae was determined to be present following testing by the California Water Resources Control Board. Additional testing is underway.

In the meantime, Kern County officials gave the following advice:

• Stay away from scum, and cloudy or discolored water.
• Do not use these waters for drinking or cooking. Boiling or filtering will not make the water safe.
• Do not let pets or livestock go into or drink the water, or go near the scum.
• Do not eat shellfish from these waters.
• For fish caught here, throw away guts and clean fillets with tap water or bottled water before cooking.
• Call your doctor or veterinarian if you or your pet get sick after going into the water.

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