Tests for algae toxins in Bull Creek come up negative


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Lab tests for algae toxins in both algae and water samples from Bull Creek came out to be negative, Austin’s Watershed Protection Department said Friday.

The samples were collected August 6. Watershed Protection said the creek seemed to look normal then, with wispy green algae usually seen in Hill County streams.

The day before the samples were taken, the city was notified of a person, who after playing in Bull Creek on August 1, had developed symptoms that could’ve been related to toxic algae exposure.

A mother came forward to KXAN on August 5, claiming her 3-year-old son had developed tremors after playing in Bull Creek the same day the city said the exposure happened — August 1. However, the city did not say if this was the same report of symptoms it received.

Although the samples were negative, the department explained the flow of water in the creek spiked twice between the exposure date and when the samples were taken. The spikes could’ve changed the algae in the creek.

Samples were collected again Friday, and those results will come out toward the end of next week, Watershed Protection said. However, the appearance of the algae hasn’t changed much in the past week.

Toxic algae blooms are less likely to show up in a creek when the water is cool and flowing, the department advised, saying harmful algae usually appears in stock ponds, stormwater ponds, stagnant pools or shorelines of a natural water body.

Even so, Watershed Protection said it’s hard to tell what is harmful algae and what isn’t, so it’s best to assume all algae could be dangerous and avoid contact.

You should also avoid swimming for a few days after heavy rainfall, Watershed Protection said, because that’s when bacteria levels are higher.

Learn more about harmful algae online here.

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