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Cochiti Lake beach closed due to toxic algae bloom

The swim beach at Cochiti Lake is closed because of a toxic blue-green algae bloom. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Albuquerque District)

The swim beach at Cochiti Lake is closed due to a toxic blue-green algae bloom in the lake, according to the Albuquerque District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Spokesperson Elizabeth Lockyear said this is the first documented case of toxic blue-green algae at Cochiti Lake.

The swim beach is gated off, but the boat ramps and campgrounds remain open.

“The toxic algae bloom is concentrated near the swim beach, but it’s also in pockets in other areas of the lake,” Lockyear said. “If someone wanted to swim in the other areas of the lake, we wouldn’t stop them, but I wouldn’t recommend it.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that dense accumulations of blue-green algae can produce cyanobacteria toxins that cause rashes and illnesses in humans and pets.

The algae blooms form in warm, slow-moving water and are more common in late summer.

Algae is naturally present in Cochiti Lake, but the high concentrations of the toxic blue-green algae create a problem, according to Lockyear.

“Our Corps of Engineers staff took samples of the algae, and then those were tested by a private laboratory, which determined the algae was toxic,” she said.

Fish caught in the lake can be eaten, but officials advise eating the fish in moderation and avoid eating the guts of the fish, where the algae toxins may accumulate.

Lockyear said it was a good idea to keep pets out of the lake.

“The blue-green algae gets into the animal’s fur, and then they lick it and ingest the toxic bacteria,” she said.

Breathing in the algae-affected water droplets or swallowing the water can cause a sore throat, nausea and vomiting. Extreme symptoms from toxic blue-green algae exposure include numbness, dizziness and difficulty breathing.

The Albuquerque District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will post updates about the closure on its website, https://www.spa.usace.army.mil, and on its Facebook page.

Abiquiu Lake was closed last week because of its own toxic blue-green algae bloom. The swim beach at Abiquiu remains closed and swimming is still not allowed along the Cerrito Recreation Area shoreline.

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