Harmful algae bloom found in parts of Lake Anna

Parts of Lake Anna, highlighted here in red, were under a harmful algae bloom advisory on Wednesday morning. Click here to expand. (Courtesy VDH)

Officials in Virginia are warning the public of an algae bloom affecting parts of Lake Anna that could be harmful to swimmers.

Virginia health officials extended an algae bloom advisory for the North Anna and Upper Pamunkey branches of Lake Anna in Orange, Louisa and Spotsylvania counties on Tuesday.

Samples collected on Aug. 5 from seven locations in those branches showed unsafe levels of toxin-producing cyanobacteria.

The public is asked to avoid contact with the water until algae levels no longer pose a threat.

Swimmers, pets, windsurfers, and anyone practicing activities with a risk of ingesting water should stay out until further notice.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, here are the sections of the lake that are affected:

  • Pamunkey Branch: From the upper inundated waters of the Pamunkey arm of the lake downstream to the 612 Bridge, including Terry’s Run.
  • North Anna Branch: From the upper inundated waters of the North Anna arm of the lake downstream to above the confluence with Pamunkey Branch above Goodwins Point. Does not include “the Splits.”

See an interactive map of which areas to avoid.

As of Wednesday, the advisory does not extend to the entire lake — VDH said samples collected downstream at the Lake Anna State Park beach and the Va. Route 208 bridge were within safe limits.

Some harmful species of algae can cause skin rashes, gastrointestinal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. “When in doubt, stay out,” health officials said in the advisory.

If kids or pets come into contact with blooms, immediately wash them off with plenty of fresh and clean water. Avoid water with green or bluish-green floating scum.

VDH said follow-up tests above Route 208 are planned for the second week of September.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

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