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Water use advisory for Lake Tapps lowered based on test results

August 19, 2016

Click here for the current conditions at Lake Tapps.

Results show likelihood of reduced risk from water exposure

Health Department still urges caution for people and pets.

TACOMA, Wash. – Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department received laboratory results from a Lake Tapps toxic algae sample earlier today, and the sample showed no detectable concentrations of toxin.

“The Health Department has not been able to confirm the presence of toxins in the water, nor the presence of new algal blooms, so our advisory will change to a caution,” said Brad Harp, water program resources manager.

The caution advisory lets people know that because toxic algae poses a possible health concern, they should avoid areas where visible algae may be present.

“The message we have for the public is simple: if you see algae in the water, people and their pets should stay out,” said Harp. “Although the illnesses people have reported are consistent with symptoms of toxic algae exposure, we do not believe the conditions that would further threaten public health are widely present. Again, when in doubt, stay out.”

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department continues to monitor the presence of algae in the lake and may retest as soon as early next week.

The Health Department has not found toxic algae in Lake Tapps previously. Various conditions influence whether toxic algae produces toxins.

The people who reported illnesses described symptoms that are consistent with ingestion of microcystin, a toxin produced by several genera of cyanobacteria, including Oscillatoria. The illnesses occurred in people ages two to 48 years. Twelve people reported illnesses from swimming over the weekend, and two more reported illness over the past two days after swimming in the lake on Aug. 16 and 17. Those who reported illness recovered within a few days.

Typical laboratory tests can’t confirm that illness in people is caused by toxic algae. For more information on toxic algae, please visit our website at or call (253) 798-6470.

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health. We are one of only 134 accredited health departments in the country and among five in the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards. Learn more at

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