Current Surface Water Advisories
The Surface Water Advisory Page was last updated on August 19, 2016.
When it comes to water, we work to identify and stop contamination, prevent waterborne illness and improve water quality. Protecting the water around us is essential to community health and quality of life.
If you would like to know when our local lakes and beaches are closed or when access is limited because of public health risks, sign up to receive emails and select Surface Water Advisories.
When you see a toxic algae advisory, it means the water has cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, which can produce toxins. Add sunlight and warmer temperatures, and toxic algae can reproduce rapidly in fresh water—creating toxic algae “blooms.” Water with toxic algae can kill pets, waterfowl and other animals and cause serious illness or even death in people.
- Lake Tapps, Toxic Algae Caution Advisory, issued August 19, 2016 - Update!
- Bay Lake, Toxic Algae Caution Advisory, issued August 16, 2016
- Wapato Lake, Toxic Algae Caution Advisory, issued August 3, 2016
- Tanwax Lake, Toxic Algae Caution Advisory, issued June 28, 2016
- Ohop Lake, Toxic Algae Caution Advisory, issued June 24, 2016
- Harts Lake, Toxic Algae Caution Advisory, issued June 1, 2016
- Waughop Lake, Toxic Algae Caution Advisory and Do Not Eat the Fish Advisory, issued December 23, 2015
Lakes with advisories are generally checked weekly until advisory is lifted.
Why do we close recreational shellfish harvesting at local beaches? Causes can include high concentrations of shellfish biotoxins such as Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP), or because of reported illnesses from Vibrio, a bacterial foodborne infection usually associated with eating undercooked seafood. Sometimes, we close beaches because of bacteria from failing septic systems, poor animal keeping practices or storm-water runoff that results in poor water quality.
- Currently, Washington State Department of Health has no recreational shellfish harvest closures in Pierce County due to biotoxins.
The State Department of Health maintains a webpage of regional shellfish beach advisories.
We post advisories at swimming beaches for everything from Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning to high bacteria counts to contamination from a sewage leak or toxic algae. Any of these can sicken or even kill people, pets and wildlife.
- American Lake has had reports of Swimmer's Itch. Swimmer's Itch is caused by small, free-swimming parasites that are transmitted by waterfowl, and can result in an itchy rash. People who swim in the lake, particularly in areas south of Harry Todd Park, are advised to take certain preventative measures:
- Prior to swimming - Apply good, waterproof sunscreen to exposed skin.
- Immediately after leaving the water - Take a warm, soapy shower or briskly dry the entire body with a towel to physically remove the parasites.
Do Not Eat the Fish Advisory (Click here for more info)
- Because of pollution, people should not eat shellfish, including crab and bottom fish from the waterways of Commencement Bay.
Creeks and Streams Advisories
All rivers, streams, lakes and ponds naturally contain bacteria, viruses, parasites and algae. Most of these small organisms are beneficial and do not harm people, but some can cause illness. When bacteria counts are high, people who wade or play in a creek have an increased risk of getting sick. To prevent that, we post advisories when a creek has high bacteria counts.
- Meeker Creek
- No advisories at this time
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