Did recent rain help or hurt the toxic algae problem in Austin’s lakes?

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — City of Austin experts like Senior Ecologist Dr. Brent Bellinger are continuing to monitor the toxic algae problem in area lakes.

Dr. Bellinger told KXAN they collected water samples before last week’s rain event.

Though they were still awaiting the results, he says they believe there’s still harmful bacteria in the water.

However, after last week’s heavy rain that flushed a lot of water into the Austin area waterways, he says that could potentially be a good thing for the toxic algae situation.

“It’s possible that given the amount of rain received…we may have less sign of bacteria present now,” said Dr. Bellinger, though more testing is needed.

City officials are still reminding people to keep their pets away from swimming in the water to avoid the risk of swallowing floating algae.

“You want to keep your animals away from those, if they happen to ingest any of these, you’ll see very quickly they’ll be unsteady on their feet, they can have seizures, convulsions, foaming at the mouth and other symptoms,” said Dr. Bellinger.

If they do happen to ingest any water that could have the toxic algae in it and they are showing symptoms, owners need to get their pets to the vet as quickly as possible.

When will it be safe for my pet to swim in Austin’s waterways again?

Dr. Bellinger says algae are present in different amounts year-round, but they tend to peak when waters are warmest in Austin.

“Hopefully with these cool fronts moving through, we will get a shift back to more desired algae…and there will be less signs of bacteria, which means less signs of abundant toxins,” said Bellinger.

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