Blue-green algae found at Pikeview Reservoir, closed to swimming until further notice

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The toxic bacteria known as blue-green "algae" making headlines this week has been found at Pikeview Reservoir.

The reservoir, a popular fishing lake in Central Colorado Springs, remains safe for fishing but humans and their pets are prohibited from entering the water until further notice.

Pikeview Reservoir is part of the Colorado Springs Utilities water system, but officials say there are no concerns about affecting the safety of the community's water supply.

"It's our responsibility to provide safe, reliable drinking water to our community and to always consider public safety at our reservoirs. We will continue to closely monitor our reservoirs and take appropriate actions," Earl Wilkinson, Chief Water Services Officer said.

Springs Utilities conducts more than 400 water quality tests per month, but has increased the frequency of the tests with the increased risk of the blue-green algae.

Warming temperatures have contributed to the growth of the bacteria, and presence of blue-green algae has increased at reservoirs across the United States.

Cory Noble, an aquatic biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen contribute to the growth of cyanobacteria. 

"Those nutrients allow the algae to grow rapidly and warmer temperatures with longer days in summer also play a role in the algae blooms." 

Prospect Lake, a recreation lake in Colorado Springs, tested positive for the bacteria and is also closed to full-body contact for humans and pets.

Aaron Mendell, who has been fishing at Pikeview reservoir for almost three years, says he wouldn't take a fish back home to cook. 

"I would not today. I'm freaked out by the way the water looks. I mean it just doesn't look right." 

Blue-green algae is often deadly to dogs. Earlier this week in North Carolina, a woman lost three dogs within hours of playing in a pond where blue-green algae was present.

Exposure to blue-green algae can cause symptoms including nausea, vomiting, rash, irritated eyes, seizures and breathing problems. Anyone suspicious of exposure with onset of symptoms should contact their doctor or veterinarian.

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