Algae bloom

Algae blooms discovered in the DeWeese reservoir prompted a warning from state officials.

State officials urged residents to avoid getting in or coming into contact with water within the DeWeese Reservoir State Wildlife Area near Westcliffe after a dangerous algae bloom was discovered there.

The algae can be toxic if ingested or even if it makes contact with the skin.

“All skin-to-water contact should be avoided for humans and pets,” Area Wildlife Manager Mike Trujillo said in a statement Thursday. “We encourage no contact with the water for humans or their pets. Contact with the water could cause minor skin rashes and make pets ill. So avoidance is the best policy.”

The blue-green algae bloom are actually bacteria, according to pollution control agencies. The blooms prosper in areas with warm water, an increasing issue with global climate change. 

Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a news release it was "concerned about the increased levels of toxicity found Wednesday" after testing in the wildlife area in Custer County.

The agency urged residents to avoid both the water and, in particular, the algae blooms. While fishing it still permitted, anglers should avoid letting the water come into contact with their skin. The toxins can build up within the fish.

The Environmental Protection Agency wrote on its website that warmer water from climate change can drive blue-green algae blooms because they "prefer warmer water. Warmer temperatures prevent water from mixing, allowing algae to grow thicker and faster. Warmer water is easier for small organisms to move through and allows algae to float to the surface faster. Algal blooms absorb sunlight, making water even warmer and promoting more blooms."

Health reporter

Seth Klamann is the health reporter for the Gazette, focused on COVID-19, public health and substance use. He's a Kansas City native and a University of Missouri alum, with stops in Wyoming, Omaha and Milwaukee before moving to Denver.

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