Water in Barton Creek at Sculpture Falls safe to swim in, officials say

Austin Watershed Protection officials say it's safe again to swim in the water in the Barton Creek Greenbelt.

Authorities tested the water near Sculpture Falls back in September after someone called 3-1-1 and reported getting sick after swimming there. Environmental scientists detected a toxin from a certain kind of blue-green algae.

Samples taken on Sept. 9 showed levels of cylindrospermopsin, produced by certain types of cyanobacteria or blue-green algae, above EPA guidance values for recreational use. 

This toxin however is a different strain than the one that made dogs sick in areas of Central Texas, including Lady Bird Lake.

Officials say recent tests show lower levels of the toxin making the water safe for swimming again. However, they warn the toxins could return without warning in the future.

Cylindrospermopsin may cause liver and kidney damage. According to the EPA, acute human and animal health effects of exposure to this toxin include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody diarrhea

Anyone who thinks they have been exposed it advised to seek medical treatment immediately and call 311 to report possible illness in people or pets from harmful algae.

Click here for more information on toxic algae.

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