LYNDEN, Wash. — Whatcom County Department of Health and Community Services issued an advisory today, August 11th, reminding residents to avoid contact with the water at Wiser Lake and not allow pets to swim in or drink the lake water. Wiser Lake is 1 of 11 Washington lakes with toxin levels currently above state standards.
Caution signage has been posted at Wiser Lake since 2019 due to consistently elevated toxin levels and recent test results indicate an ongoing health risk according to the press release. A similar advisory was issued this same time last year.
Recent test results continue to show an ongoing health risk. By US Environmental Protection Agency standards, current toxin levels are higher than the maximum safe level. Whatcom County Health and Community Services (August 11, 2023)
Water samples taken from Wiser Lake since 2014 have exceeded state recreation guidelines for anatoxin-a (1 micrograms per liter) and microcystin (6 micrograms per liter) multiple times as detailed below.
|Collection Date||Toxin||Sample Concentration (µg/L)||Above State Guideline|
There is no way to tell if an algae bloom is toxic by looking at it according to experts. Only a laboratory toxin analysis can confirm if a bloom is toxic or non-toxic.
In 2005, the Washington State Legislature established funding for an algae control program. The Freshwater Algae Control Program targets blue-green algae (also known as cyanobacteria) because these algae can produce toxins that pose a health risk to humans, pets, and livestock.
Other Whatcom County lakes from which water samples have been collected and tested over recent years include Lake Padden, Thunderbird Lake, Dickenson Lake, Silver Lake, Toad Lake and Lake Terrell. Besides Wiser Lake, lakes with samples that exceeded maximum toxin guidelines were Lake Terrell (2019) and Toad Lake (2015, 2017) according to the Washington State Freshwater Algae Control Program database.