GIG HARBOR, WA — The Tacoma – Pierce County Health Department has closed Palmer Lake on Key Peninsula after an algae bloom turned the water toxic.
Earlier, the county health department had issued a caution advisory, simply telling residents to stay away from parts of the lake that had visible algae.
However, experts ran a routine check to see if conditions had improved Monday, and when results came back Thursday, they showed the lake had high levels of toxins. As a result, public health has closed the lake to all visitors.
The lake will remain closed for at least two weeks, though crews will return to test the water again next week. The results of that test will determine if the bloom remains, and when the lake might be reopened to the public.
The closure means people and pets alike should stay clear of the water. That includes swimming, wading, water skiing and even fishing. Experts say contact with the infested water can lead to a number of negative symptoms, including muscle weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea. Pets who swim in or ingest the water might also show signs of lethargy, convulsions, and general weakness.
If you or your pet are exposed to the toxic algae, rinse off immediately and keep a sharp eye out for any symptoms or signs of illness, and get medical treatment if those symptoms appear. Pet owners should also keep their pets from licking their fur after exposure, as they can take in toxic algae that way too.
The closure is just the latest in a series of algae-related closures this summer: Ohop and Spanaway lakes also remain under toxic algae advisories. All current water quality advisories can be found on the Tacoma – Pierce County Health Department’s website.