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Dog swim days at Silver Creek Metro Park remain canceled due to algae bloom

Akron Beacon Journal
Akron Beacon Journal
 2022-08-10

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Dog swim days at Silver Creek Metro Park in Norton remain canceled due to an algae bloom in the lake that can be harmful to dogs.

Summit Metro Parks Marketing and Public Relations Manager Claire Merrick said the harmful algal bloom, or HAB, was first observed July 6. Dog swim days at Silver Creek were immediately suspended, as the next dog swim day would have been July 7 .

The lake at Silver Creek remains open for other recreational water activities like boating, paddling and fishing.

While not all algae blooms are dangerous, harmful algae blooms are caused by a large growth of cyanobacteria that can produce cyanotoxins, which may affect the liver, nervous system or skin.

According to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency , Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio Department of Health , cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) are a kind of photosynthetic bacteria commonly found in Ohio waters.

What causes harmful algae blooms?

The blooms require specific conditions, including warm temperatures and sunlight, along with phosphorus and nitrogen, which are commonly found in animal and human waste and in fertilizers. They can enter lakes and streams from agricultural and residential lawn runoff, improperly functioning septic systems and erosion of nutrient-rich soil.

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“Hot, dry conditions followed by rains typically cause blooms like this one,” Merrick said. “Additionally, these blooms are caused by the overfeeding of algae after rain events washing surplus nutrients into the water system, such as phosphorus, nitrogen and carbon, [that] give the cyanobacteria exactly what it needs to cause the overabundant harmful algal blooms. This indicates the water body at this present time is out of ‘balance’ from its typical stasis.”

Harmful algae blooms have different colors (green, blue-green, brown, black, white, purple, red and black) and looks (like film, crust or puff balls at the surface; grass clippings or dots in the water; spilled paint, pea soup, foam, wool, streaks or green cottage cheese curd), according to the Ohio EPA .

What effect do harmful algae blooms have on people and pets?

According to ODH , the blooms can produce toxic chemicals in the form of neurotoxins (nervous system), hepatotoxins (liver) and dermatoxins (skin). People and pets can be exposed by touching harmful algae blooms, swallowing water with cyanotoxins or breathing in water droplets.

According to the Ohio EPA, algae blooms are especially dangerous to pets and livestock, with signs and symptoms in them including lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, pale mucous membranes, muscle tremors, rigidity, respiratory distress, convulsions and death.

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Time can be critical Ohio EPA says, because some exposures can produce life-threatening illnesses within a half-hour of ingestion. Pet owners should contact their veterinarian as soon as possible if pets or livestock become ill.

According to the Ohio EPA, people should keep pets and livestock out of water with algae blooms and not let pets eat algae off the beach. If pets do enter water with an algae bloom, owners should rinse them off well so they don’t lick any algae off their fur or skin.

“Blooms of blue-green algae can be toxic to canines when ingested,” Merrick said. “The toxin threshold of dogs is much lower than humans, and their likelihood of ingesting water is significantly greater, which is why dog swimming is closed when a bloom is present regardless of testing.”

When can dogs swim again at Silver Creek Metro Park?

Merrick said testing occurs after a suspected algae bloom is observed or reported, as Summit Metro Parks doesn’t do routine water tests without the suspected presence of algae. A lake water sample was confirmed to be positive for blue-green algae by the park district’s conservation department’s internal testing, but Merrick said the park district doesn’t measure the toxin levels of the bloom.

“As soon as algae is observed, we err on the side of caution and suspend dog swim days for the safety of our canine visitors,” she said.

The bloom is affecting the entire lake, as wind and weather move the bloom to different areas of the lake, she said.

Merrick said there’s no way to treat the bloom, which she said “must flush out naturally.”

Dogs will be able to resume swimming when the bloom is no longer visible.

According to Summit Metro Parks , a bathhouse and the 50-acre lake, fed by a spring from an old mine near Wall Road, were built at the 1,008-acre Silver Creek Metro Park in the early 1990s. The site of the park was previously the Harter Dairy Farm, and the park district acquired the land in 1966.

Lake at Munroe Falls Metro Park is algae-free, dog swim days continue

The lake at Munroe Falls Metro Park remains clear of algae blooms and is open for dog swim days every Thursday through the end of the season, with the last day for dog swim days Thursday, Sept. 1.

The rules for dog swim days include:

  • Two off-leash dogs per person are allowed.
  • Owners are responsible for their dogs and their dogs’ actions and accountable and liable for any damage or injury their dogs inflict.
  • Owners can’t leave the park without their dogs, bring dog food or treats into the swim area or get in the lake with their dogs.
  • Dogs have to be licensed and vaccinated, and dogs in heat can’t attend. Unfriendly, unsocial, aggressive, nuisance, dangerous or vicious dogs also can’t attend.
  • Owners are required to pick up their dogs’ waste and dispose of it in the proper location.
  • Dogs can’t dig holes, and any holes they dig have to be filled.

Contact Beacon Journal reporter Emily Mills at emills@thebeaconjournal.com and on Twitter @EmilyMills818 .

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Dog swim days at Silver Creek Metro Park remain canceled due to algae bloom

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