E.coli bacteria and harmful algal bloom toxins have been detected in various bodies of water around Gallatin County, with three Caution Advisories being issued so far. Some of the most popular recreational sites in the county are being affected and it's important to pay attention to any posted signage.

It is not uncommon for these toxins to be present in bodies of water that are popular for recreation. However, elevated levels of toxins and bacteria can be very harmful to humans and pets. Testing of area waters is ongoing and conditions/levels can change very quickly. E.coli bacteria and harmful algal bloom toxins can be VERY unpleasant if they make you sick.

Lakes in Montana (big and small) are immensely popular for recreation during the summer. "GLWQD (Gallatin Local Water Quality District) is performing local water quality testing through the recreational waters monitoring program. Test results are posted on the GCCHD water quality page, as well as additional information on harmful algal blooms (HABs) and other waterborne illnesses."

The Gallatin County Health Department, along with the Gallatin Local Water Quality District issued a press release on Monday, July 24th, 2023 addressing the issue. It was made very clear that ongoing testing was going to take place and updates would be issued as conditions change.

Gallatin County currently has three locations where a CAUTION advisory is posted for HABs. Valley Grove HOA Pond, Hyalite Reservoir, and Hebgen Lake near Corey Springs in the Grayling Arm.

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Gallatin County has detected elevated bacteria in Meyers Lake where E. coli levels are above the EPA recreational water quality standards for full body contact swimming.

The HABs can make you sick if you ingest them, or simply have prolonged contact with water that contains elevated levels. The Health Department states: "Direct contact, ingestion, or inhalation of cyanotoxins may irritate the skin, eyes, nose, and respiratory system or cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or headaches."

E. Coli, which has been detected in Meyers Lake in elevated levels, can also be quite nasty although not all strains of the bacteria make people sick. However, it's easier to contract and can even be found in your own backyard.

E. coli can be contracted when swallowing water while swimming or playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools, or even backyard “kiddie” pools. While unintentionally swallowing water is a common cause of sickness, those with cuts, open wounds, or sores should not enter the water, as these are also pathways for bacteria to enter your body.

More testing will be done and as soon as updates are issued, we will publish them. If you'd like to read details about the current findings and the testing procedure, visit the Gallatin County Health Department's website.

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