Harmful algal blooms have now been detected at Hyalite Reservoir. These blue-green algae commonly look like pea soup or grass clippings found on the top of the water. The algal blooms have already been detected in Sundance Springs Subdivision and Valley West Pond in Bozeman.

The blooms can harm people, animals, and the local ecosystem due to the production of toxins known as cyanotoxins, according to a press release Friday from the Gallatin City-County Health Department.  It is important as Montanans and visitors head to local ponds, lakes, and reservoirs for summer fun that they are aware of the harmful algae.

Here's how kids, pets, and livestock can get sick:

  • Recreational activities such as swimming, kayaking, fishing, or wading through water.
  • Drinking or swallowing contaminated water.
  • Breathing in contaminated water droplets or mist from recreational activities or wind-blown sea spray.
  • Eating contaminated seafood (fish or shellfish).

Hannah Reidl, water quality specialist at the Montana Department of Enviromental Quality, stated:

children and pets are more likely to ingest HAB infested waters because they spend most of their time wading in the shallow waters where algae can accumulate, and they have less control over how much water they ingest. . . Because we can’t track rapidly changing conditions in every body of water, we want people to be informed enough to make their own decisions. We also ask the public to help by reporting HABs so that we can respond quickly and hopefully prevent people, pets, and livestock from getting sick.

Direct contact, ingestion, or inhalation of cyanotoxins may irritate the skin, eyes, nose and respiratory system or cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or headaches. If you suspect exposure contact Poison Control 1-800-222-1222 and seek medical attention.

Photo courtesy of the Montana State HAB Program