Algae bloom prompts health advisory for WSSC’s Triadelphia Reservoir

A Maryland water utility issued a health advisory Thursday, warning people who use its Triadelphia Reservoir for boating and fishing to avoid touching the water because of potentially toxic algae that can cause serious health problems.

WSSC Water said it found high concentrations of cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae, in the reservoir, which is on the Patuxent River in Montgomery and Howard counties. The drinking water that comes from the reservoir is being closely monitored but so far has not been affected and continues to meet water quality safety standards, WSSC Water spokesman Jerry Irvine said.

The algae bloom is similar to one in September 2020 and is common in stagnant water during warmer temperatures, Irvine said. People who drink or touch the reservoir water can get a rash, gastrointestinal, disorientation, fatigue and numbness.

Because the reservoir also serves as a recreational area for hikers, boaters and kayakers, the utility advised people to avoid touching the water when wading in to launch canoes or other boats or rinsing it off immediately with clean water. Pets, which aren’t allowed in the reservoir, also shouldn’t swim in or drink the water, the utility said. Fillets from fish caught there should be thoroughly washed with drinking water, but fish livers or digestive organs should not be eaten, the utility said.

People or pets who touch or drink the water should contact a local health department, Irvine said.

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