Harmful Algae Bloom Advisory Lifted for Wilcox Lake in Petersburg

October 31, 2019

Media Contact:  Lorrie Andrew-Spear, Lorrie.Andrew-Spear@VDH.virginia.gov

HAB Task Force Sampling to Resume in May 2020

The public is advised to be aware of signs of a harmful algae bloom and avoid contact if there is the presence of scum.

(Richmond, Va.) – The swimming advisory for Wilcox Lake has been lifted based on samples collected October 3, which were within safe swimming levels for cyanobacteria and toxins.

Algae blooms can occur when warm water and nutrients combine to make conditions favorable for algae growth. Most algae species are harmless; however, some species (called “cyanobacteria”) may produce irritating compounds or toxins that may cause skin rash and gastrointestinal illnesses, such as upset stomach, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Though the last samples on Wilcox Lake indicated the water was safe and the advisory has been lifted, blooms may re-occur. Routine HAB monitoring and response occurs monthly during the swimming season; May to October. To ensure the Task Force can support response in early spring and summer 2020, sampling for swimming use has been suspended to conserve resources.

To ensure you are not exposed to a re-occurrence of a bloom on Wilcox Lake, be aware of and avoid discolored water or scums that are green or blueish-green because they are more likely to contain toxins.

To prevent exposure and avoid illness, people should:

  • Avoid contact with any area of the lake where water is bluish-green or it looks as though paint has been spilled on the surface. WHEN IN DOUBT, STAY OUT!
  • Do not allow children or pets to drink from natural bodies of water.
  • Keep children and pets out of the areas experiencing a harmful algae bloom and if exposed, quickly wash them off with plenty of fresh, clean water after coming into contact with algae scum or bloom water.
  • If you or your animals experience symptoms after exposure to an algal bloom, seek medical/veterinarian care.
  • To ensure fish fillets are safe to eat, properly clean fish by removing skin and discarding all internal organs, and cooking fish to the proper temperature.
  • If you suspect you experienced health-related effects following exposure to a bloom, contact the Virginia Harmful Algal Bloom Hotline at 1-888-238-6154.
  • To learn more about harmful algae blooms or to report an algae bloom or fish kill visit SwimHealthyVA.com.