AUSTIN (KXAN) — Popular Austin park Red Bud Isle was reopened to dogs Friday after a months-long closure for toxic algae testing, according to a press release from the Austin Parks and Recreation Department. However, PARD is still warning dog owners that the algae could return.
The park was closed on Aug. 7, to be tested for blue-green algae mats in the vicinity. These algae, also known as cyanobacteria, produce toxins that can create a harmful bloom. The closure came after the dangerous algae was discovered on Lady Bird Lake. The algae was determined to be the cause of death for several dogs that swam in the lake.
The Watershed Protection Department tested and found the toxins in various algae samples from three different points on the lake from August to October. The PARD says the algal bloom reached its peak in August and saw a slight resurgence in October.
On Nov. 12, water samples were taken from the area around Red Bud Isle. PARD says no signs of the bacteria were found in the samples.
However, PARD cautioned, “Dog owners who choose to allow their dogs in Lady Bird Lake should be aware that another harmful algal bloom may occur at any time in any part of the lake.”
During the Watershed Protection Department’s testing, the toxins were only found in algae, not the water itself. The PARD warns all park patrons that while the blue-green algae mats are more prominent during hot and dry weather they can still appear at any time.
During the outbreak, PARD said people have been able to recreate in the lake. Swimming has been banned since 1964 after an ordinance passed and remains restricted to this day.
“Dog owners should be aware that all natural bodies of water pose a level of risk,” PARD wrote. “Allowing dogs to swim in Lady Bird Lake, is done at the owner’s own risk.”
For more information on the blue-green algae mats, call the Watershed Protection Department at 512-974-1450.
For more information, call the Austin Parks and Recreation Department at 512-974-6723.