Several lakes and ponds across the state of Colorado have tested positive for the toxic blue-green algae. Colorado Parks and Wildlife to test other bodies of water.

With the rise of blue-algae blooms being confirmed in Colorado, and across the country, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officials have closed down several lakes and ponds in order to test for the toxic algae.

Where to Find the Toxic Blue-Green Algae in Colorado

So far, six lakes in Colorado have tested positive for the blue-green algae (at the time of this writing):

More recently, Horseshoe Pond at the Bear Creek Greenbelt in Lakewood is being tested for the toxic blue-green algae. Chatfield State Park's dog park was initially feared to have the algae, however, the testing ultimately came back negative.

What Is the Toxic Blue-Green Algae?

The blue-green algae is actually a bacteria called cyanobacteria and is most common in non-flowing freshwater (i.e., ponds and lakes), but it can occur in rivers and creeks, as well, if the bodies of water are still. Blue-green algae is naturally occurring in Colorado, but it multiplies quickly when conditions include sustained hot weather, stagnant water, and polluted stormwater runoff.

"These conditions result in too much nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus in the water. This causes algae to grow faster than the ecosystem can handle. The increased algae harms water quality. It also decreases the amount of oxygen available to animals living in the water," said Colorado Springs officials in a statement.

It can be rather difficult to spot or differentiate from one algae to another, so it's best to simply avoid it altogether. The algae "blooms" clump together near the surface of the water and typically vary in color from bright green to brown.

How to Avoid the Toxic Blue-Green Algae

It is advised that humans and their canine companions avoid possible contact with toxic algae (not just blue-green algae). Below is a list of tips, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Avoid entering or playing in bodies of water that:

  • Smell bad
  • Look discolored
  • Have foam, scum, or algal mats on the surface
  • Contain or are near dead fish or other dead animals (for example, do not enter a body of water if dead fish have washed up on its shore or beach)

Blue-green algae is extremely toxic to dogs, and they can die within hours of ingestion. Take these precautions to keep your pet safe:

  • Do not let pets eat algae, get in the water, or go on the beach or shoreline.
  • Rinse pets off with tap water after they have been in a lake, river, or pond; do not let them lick their fur until they have been rinsed.
  • Seek veterinary care immediately if your pet has consumed or licked algae on its fur after swimming or playing in water that has an algal bloom.

This is an ongoing investigation and will be updated as more information is released by CPW officials.