By Don Russell
State owned, County leased and City of Lakewood operated and maintained Waughop Lake located in popular Fort Steilacoom Park is currently experiencing a significant hazardous algal (Anabaena) bloom. Waughop Lake has been the most consistent and virulent producer of potent toxic algal blooms of the thirty lakes that have been monitored during the past two years by volunteers in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties under the CDC’s Regional Evaluation of Hazardous Algal Blooms Program.
The cause of these toxic algal blooms is high concentration of phosphorus, a plant nutrient, in the water of the lake. The source of this phosphorus is from septic system effluent flowing subsurface via groundwater from homes located on the high ground southwest of the lake, surface water runoff from the parking lots at Pierce College, accumulated and recycled phosphorus from lake bottom sediments and wet and dry atmospheric deposition on the lake surface.
In 2005 Representative Gigi Talcott was instrumental in introducing a bill in the Legislature that led to the creation of the Department of Ecology’s Freshwater Algae Control Program. The purpose of this Program was to prevent and control toxic algal blooms throughout the State of Washington with emphasis on lakes that had experienced toxic algal blooms during the past three years. Unfortunately this Program was under funded and its funds diverted to support promulgation of freshwater toxic algal bloom health advisories (you will note the numerous Warning signs posted around Waughop Lake) and more recently to the study and clean up of saltwater algal blooms. During the six year life of the Freshwater Algae Control Program no funds have been actually been spent in preventing or controlling freshwater toxic algal blooms in the State of Washington.
Lakes in Pierce County that have been treated to prevent and control toxic algal blooms (e.g., Lake Steilacoom) have been undertaken as a result of lake shore property owners initiating and funding such treatments. Unfortunately initiating and funding the requisite action to control and prevent toxic algal blooms in Waughop Lake has no such champion among our various and responsible governmental agency owner, leaseholder or operator/maintainer. Until some responsible governmental agency steward steps forward to take remedial action expect the continued posting of Warning signs that advise that public use of Waughop Lake, inhalation of toxic laden aerosols released from the lake surface or consumption of fish taken from the lake can be hazardous to your health and deadly for your pets.Print This Post