COCHITI LAKE, N.M. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District, announced today that effective immediately the Santa Cruz day-use area is closed to swimming due to the presence of toxic blue-green algae in Cochiti Lake. The Cochiti Swim Beach remains closed.
"The safety of our visitors is our top priority, so we are monitoring conditions at the lake closely with visual spot checks and water sampling," said Trevor Wallin, USACE-Albuquerque District Cochiti Lake project office manager.
"While blue-green algae is found naturally in all lakes and river systems, it can become dangerous when a certain set of conditions line up, causing it to become toxic. Wind and water movement can cause blooms to move around, and other weather conditions can make the blooms get bigger or smaller, so we are watching closely taking a conservative approach in the interest of safety. We've seen some newer algae blooms in different coves at the lake, and we're being proactive with making the necessary closures. I recommend that visitors do not go swimming in the lake until further notice and to especially keep children and dogs out of the water near the shoreline. We will continue to keep the Swim Beach closed and the Santa Cruz day-use area will be closed to swimming as well, but will be accessible to those who wish to come out and fish or picnic over the holiday weekend. Additionally, both of the boat ramps will be open for boating," he said.
The campgrounds remain open. Closure signs for both the Cochiti Swim Beach and the Santa Cruz day use area are posted at the recreation area entrance, the boat ramps, the swim beach gate, the campground host office, access points to the Santa Cruz day-use area, and on all bulletin boards.
Due to the presence of toxic blue-green algae, the public should be aware and cautious during all water recreation at the lake, including swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing, and water skiing.
Fish caught at Cochiti Lake may be eaten, however it is advised to do so in moderation and to avoid eating the guts of the fish, where accumulation of toxins may occur.
Blue-green algae blooms, or cyanobacteria, can cause health risks in humans and pets if ingested, inhaled or touched. Small children and animals are at the greatest health risk because they weigh less and can get a relatively larger dose of toxin. Dogs are particularly susceptible because algae scums can attach to their coats and be swallowed during self-cleaning.
Skin exposures can give people a rash, hives, or skin blisters.
Breathing in water droplets during activities like water-skiing and swimming can cause runny eyes and nose, a sore throat, asthma-like symptoms or allergic reactions.
Swallowing water can cause stomach symptoms to occur within hours or days after an exposure, including abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Neurotoxicity symptoms can appear within 15 to 20 minutes after exposure.
In humans, symptoms can include numb lips, tingling fingers and toes, dizziness, and in extremely rare cases death.
In dogs, symptoms can include drooling, weakness, staggering, difficulty breathing, convulsions and death.
For any health issues experienced after contact with blue-green algae affected water please seek medical advice immediately.
The USACE, Albuquerque District will distribute the latest information on their website, www.spa.usace.army.mil, their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/USACE.Cochiti.Lake/ and through the local news media as well as the project office at Cochiti Lake.
For information on the effects of blue-green algae on people and animals, and the formation/dissipation of blue-green algae blooms, please contact the New Mexico Department of Health or the New Mexico Environment Department.