Health officials again test Vancouver Lake for toxins


Vancouver Lake remains closed

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — It’s been a rough summer for Vancouver Lake. The area was closed earlier over E. coli contamination and an algae bloom. It remains closed.

Clark County public health officials once again tested Vancouver Lake on Monday, but there is still no sign of when the swim beach will re-open.

Signs are posted throughout the area warning of the blue-green algae. The bacteria can lead to rash, severe stomach issues and be fatal for pets.

On a hot summer day there are typically hundreds of people at Vancouver Lake. But on this 90-degree day, only a handful of people were there — and none of them were in the water.

A posted sign at Vancouver Lake, August 5, 2019 (KOIN)

The high levels of blue-green algae are keeping the area closed and public health officials said they’re continuing to monitor the toxins.

“When it is really bad the whole top of the lake will look like pain. It will be a thick layer of scum and the light will barely reflect off of the lake,” said Brian Schlottmann, the program manager for Clark County Public Health.

Check current beach advisories for Clark County

“There are a lot of elements as to why this is happening. We are looking at a water body that is fairly stagnant, that gets warm, that is being influenced to our lands around us,” Schlottmann said. “So there are a lot of factors that go into how can we fix it. At this point we are just at the mercy of Mother Nature.”

Brian Schlottmann, the program manager for Clark County Public Health, August 5, 2019 (KOIN)

Schlottman told KOIN 6 News one of those elements is the density of the lake at less than 20 feet deep. That means the water stays stagnant and warm, which provides a breeding ground.

Schlottmann said in Vancouver Lake “you’re only talking 15 feet deep so it’s easy for the sun to penetrate that low.”

Algae levels started testing at elevated toxicity levels in June, a month earlier than in 2018.

Not everyone is heeding the warning. Tyler Thralls said he’s seen people break the rules but not him. He’s waiting to bring his kids back until the water is blue.

“I may wait a little bit, just to be cautious,” he said. “Eventually we will probably make it back here.”

Specialist aren’t sure how long this will last. The test results on Vancouver Lake are expected later this week.

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Vancouver Lake Regional Park, September 2018 (KOIN)

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