June 30, 2021
Algae bloom on DeWeese Reservoir brings CPW caution
WESTCLIFFE, Colo. – People and their pets are encouraged to avoid contact with water in DeWeese Reservoir State Wildlife Area due to a blue-green algae bloom that could be harmful if touched or ingested.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is concerned about the increased levels of toxicity found Wednesday in tests of the water after elevated levels of algae continued to be observed in a turquoise-colored film and in testing of the reservoir.
CPW Area Wildlife Manager Mike Trujillo advised people to be “algae aware” and avoid recreating in waters with visible algae blooms. Follow the instructions on all CPW cautionary signs posted at the reservoir about blue-green algae.
“All skin-to-water contact should be avoided for humans and pets,” Trujillo said. “We encourage no contact with the water for humans or their pets. Contact with the water could cause minor skin rashes and make pets ill. So avoidance is the best policy.”
Fishing is still allowed, just please be careful to avoid the water. Algae blooms are common when temperatures rise. But they usually occur later in the summer, he said. CPW will be monitoring the reservoir closely to see if the toxic levels increase or decrease and will adjust the status from caution, danger or clear accordingly.
It’s also important to take care handling and cleaning any fish caught in DeWeese. Toxins accumulate in the liver and guts of fish. So it’s important any fish taken is properly cleaned and thoroughly cooked before eating it.
DeWeese Reservoir SWA is a 300-acre property near Westcliffe with good fishing. Other forms of recreation still allowed at the SWA include: picnicking, hiking, wildlife viewing and camping.
Algae are an important part of aquatic food webs, but some types of blue-green algae are capable of producing toxins that may cause negative health impacts for humans and pets at elevated concentrations. Currently there is no method to remove toxins from lakes.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) recommends the following:
Keep kids out
No pets in water
Do not drink water
Avoid contact with algae
More information on blue-green algae is available on CDPHE’s website.
The public can help reduce the occurrence of blue-green algae blooms by preventing nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) from entering waterways through responsible use of lawn fertilizers, picking up pet waste and avoiding using de-icers that contain urea.