INCREASED RISK: City of Austin increases risk level for harmful algae

The City of Austin has changed the risk level for harmful algae at Lady Bird Lake and Lake Austin. Both lakes have been moved from "low risk" to "increased risk," given the recent discovery by LCRA of harmful algae in the other Highland Lakes.

Staff members with the Watershed Protection Department have also observed accumulations of algae in areas of Lady Bird Lake. As a precaution, a sample was taken on Lake Austin and sent to the University of Texas at Austin for testing last week.

Results will be posted at


Do not allow dogs to touch or ingest algae in the lakes

Dogs appear particularly vulnerable to the harmful algae blooms in Central Texas. At least five dogs died after swimming in Lady Bird Lake during the summer of 2019. The City of Austin recommends dog owners be cautious about allowing their dogs in Lady Bird Lake or Lake Austin.

If they allow their dogs in the water, it is at their own risk. 


Dog owners should take the following precautions: 

  • Check for the latest information before taking their dogs to the lakes.
  • Do not allow dogs to touch or ingest algae in the lakes.
  • Avoid areas with floating mats of algae or stagnant areas of the lakes. Rinse dogs after contact with the lakes to help prevent them from licking algae off their fur. 

Dog owners should take their pets to a veterinarian immediately if their dogs become sick after swimming in the lakes. Please also report the illness to 3-1-1.

Symptoms of exposure may include:  

  • Excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea 
  • Foaming at the mouth 
  • Jaundice and hepatomegaly 
  • Blood in urine or dark urine 
  • Stumbling 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Photosensitization in recovering animals 
  • Abdominal tenderness 
  • Progression of muscle twitches 
  • Respiratory paralysis

There is educational signage at six locations around Lady Bird Lake, according to the City of Austin. If toxins are detected in the algae, additional signage will be placed in the same locations.