Algae blooms in Hensley Lake pose health risks, officials say

Hensley Lake
Hensley Lake

Before you think of taking a swim in east Madera County’s Hensley Lake this Labor Day weekend, be aware of the lake’s recently discovered harmful algae blooms.

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board announced the finding of the algae blooms Thursday afternoon and warned touching or swallowing the contaminated water could pose health risks. If swallowed, the water could cause serious damage to the liver, kidney and nervous systems.

Signs of bacterial infection associated with algae blooms include eye irritation, skin rashes, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea and cold and flu-like symptoms. Algae blooms effects could be even more severe for pets and livestock.

If a person or animal is believed to have been exposed to algae blooms toxins, medical help should be sought immediately. No human deaths have been reported as a result of algae blooms.

“Harmful algal blooms can appear as blue-green, pea green, white or brown foam, scum or mats floating on the water’s surface and collect along shorelines and boat ramp areas. Other times, it is less visible, floating beneath the surface or on the bottom of a water body,” the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board stated in a news release.

Other signs of algae blooms are bad odor, plus dead plants and fish, according to the board.

When in doubt about the presence of harmful algae blooms, the board advised visitors to stay out of the water completely.