Brazos River Authority Confirms Presence of Toxic Algae at Belton Lake
Earlier this month, the Army Corps of Engineers ordered testing of water at Belton Lake following reports of dogs having died after recent trips to the lake. Monday night, it was reported that the Brazos River Authority has confirmed the presence of blue-green algae blooms, which can be toxic to dogs.
The river authority announced the findings Monday evening. They said lab results received over the weekend confirmed the presence of bacteria containing cyanotoxin (the aforementioned algae blooms) in both water and solid materials at the lake.
"Samples of solid material, algae and decaying algae, contained significantly higher levels of cyanotoxin than was detected in the water," they wrote in a news release. "If consumed by pets, toxic blue-green algae can lead to sever illness or could be fatal."
Officials confirmed that they suspect the bacteria is responsible for the deaths of several dogs at Belton Lake in March. They have reported their findings to the Bell County Public Health District and the Texas Department of State Health Services, and they're awaiting further guidance from epidemiologists.
According to the Brazos River Authority, cyanotoxin is rare, but could be present at any time. They're advising people to keep their dogs away from stagnant water or water with decaying matter in it (you should be doing that anyway), and that dogs not be allowed to play in or eat algae (again, always good advice).
The recent testing was ordered after a woman reported that her six-month-old puppy had died about half an hour after playing in water at Morgan's Point Marina. Other dogs reportedly passed away recently as well after trips to the lake.
This should go without saying, but it's extremely important that you keep a close watch on your dogs and never let them swim and play in, or drink, any water from lakes, ponds, or canals.
I enjoy taking my dog for walks at the trail next to Arrowhead Point Park, but I don't allow her to get close to the water and I carry fresh water and a small collapsible bowl for when she needs to drink. I highly recommend anyone walking their dog around the lake do the same.
If you plan to let your dog swim in any body of water, this article has details on what you should look for before your dog dives in.