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DHEC Issues Additional Recreational Water Advisories and Watches for Portions of Lake Wylie due to Harmful Algae

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 8, 2021

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is updating the recreational water advisory issued on Thursday, Sept. 30. The updated advisory announced today expands to include additional coves on Lake Wylie in York County after DHEC detected the presence of additional harmful algal blooms (HABs). 

As part of DHEC’s routine monitoring of natural water bodies throughout the state, the agency collected samples from Lake Wyle that were tested Oct. 5. The results indicated that microcystins ― which are toxins produced by cyanobacteria (formerly known as blue-green algae) ― are present along the shorelines in multiple coves of Lake Wylie, and these microcystins are greater than 10 micrograms per liter (ug/L or parts per billion). This is greater than the state’s water quality standard of 8 ug/L. 

  • Continuing recreational advisory from Sept. 30:
    • Cove between Clematis Trail and Acacia Road   
  • New recreational advisories as of Oct. 8: 
    • Cove between Point Clear Drive and Marquesas Avenue
    • Cove between Palmyra Drive and Molokai Drive 

The recreational swim advisories due to elevated microcystins in the abovementioned coves are only for the areas along the shoreline where the cyanobacteria tend to accumulate. 

Additional “recreational watches” have been issued by DHEC for nine coves on Lake Wylie as cyanobacteria were found at bloom levels in the coves but at levels that don’t exceed the state’s water quality standards. Visit DHEC’s Algal Bloom Monitoring map to see the locations of the recreational advisories and watches. These watches do not include the open water portions of Lake Wylie.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency names microcystins a potent liver toxin and possible human carcinogen. DHEC has been coordinating and communicating with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Mecklenburg County Stormwater, and Duke Energy.

DHEC advises that, until further notice:

  • No one should swim, wade, or come into contact with any discolored water, scum, foam or algae found in Lake Wylie.
    • Individuals should seek medical attention if they or their family members are experiencing illness after coming into contact with the water. 
  • Any fish taken from Lake Wylie in areas of these blooms should be thoroughly rinsed before eaten.
    • Dogs and other animals also should be kept away from areas where there is discolored water, scum, foam or algae, as they could become seriously ill or die after exposure to it. 
    • Animals often are exposed to algae blooms by swallowing water while swimming or standing along the shoreline and by licking cyanobacteria from their fur.
    • Signs of exposure to a bloom can depend on how the animal was exposed, but symptoms can occur anywhere from 15 minutes to several days after exposure, and symptoms can include:
      • Excess drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, foaming at mouth
      • Difficulty breathing or convulsions
      • Weakness or staggering
      • Abdominal tenderness
  • Contact a veterinarian immediately if animals show signs of illness after coming into contact with water in an advisory area. 

The recreational swim advisories will be lifted once sample analyses indicate the microcystin level is lower than the state’s water quality standard. DHEC will post updated information when the advisories are lifted or there are changes to the conditions of the advisories. 

For more information, please contact DHEC’s Bureau of Water at 803-898-8374. If calling after hours, please leave a message that can be returned. For additional information about harmful algae in South Carolina, click here.

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