Blue-green algae seen at Red Bud Isle, Jessica Hollis Park

Blue-green algae is back, says Austin Watershed Protection.

The department says blue-green algae, which may be toxic, has been seen at Red Bud Isle on Lady Bird Lake and Jessica Hollis Park on Lake Austin.

Austin Watershed also warns that it may be mixed in with green algae in other places as well.

As of Friday, March 10, the algae has not been tested, but the city says residents should assume it may be toxic and avoid it. 

The city has the following recommendations for dealing with algae:

People and Pets

  • Do not drink water directly from natural water bodies.
  • Avoid contact with algae.
  • Rinse skin or animal fur after contact with water.
  • Do not allow dogs to lick their fur prior to rinsing.

Do Not Enter Water a Natural Water Body If:

  • Water is warm or stagnant, or you see scum, film or algae.
  • There has been rain in the past three days.
  • There are lots of dogs present.

Residents should note that swimming is prohibited in Lady Bird Lake.

Experts say there is algae year-round but the risk is highest in the summer.

"It's been a very warm winter. We haven't gotten that much rain to kind of flush out the systems. A lot of the growth that's out there really didn't get knocked back in a way that you would hope for or might expect in normal years or in different winter conditions," Dr. Brent Bellinger with Austin Watershed Protection said.

The toxin found in blue-green algae is the same toxin that killed at least three dogs in 2019.

"Just by looking at algae, there's no way to know if there's toxins present in the absence of testing," Bellinger said.

Emma Cobb and her dog were enjoying Red Bud Isle away from the water. 

"Luckily, [my dog] doesn't really get into the water too much, she's kind of afraid of the water, but I am definitely worried about it," she said. "I used to take her to a different place closer to me near Riverside, and she would get in the water there because it was really shallow, and then I found out about the blue algae, and I freaked out and never took her there again, because I was worried that she's going to get it," Cobb said.

April Calderon-Larson was at Red Bud Isle with her kids. 

"We didn't bring our pet because of the algae," she said. "We're not getting in the water because of the algae, it's going to be really hard, but I think it's probably better for [my kids] especially, because all the time there's hands in the water, hands in our mouth."

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