AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - The Savannah River Keeper has confirmed harmful bacteria found in Lake Olmstead. Executive Director and River Keeper, Tonya Bonitatibus, said the water coordinator was at the lake fixing the trash trap earlier in the week when he noticed blue-green clumps of algae floating around, and took samples to be tested.
Bonitatibus said, “There are at least four blue-green bacteria blooming right now in Lake Olmstead.” Word of those algal blooms is shocking some, but is not uncommon. Bonitatibus explained, “It’s not that that bacteria doesn’t exist naturally. It’s that it’s turned into a stagnant, super-heated incubator.”
High temperatures heating up the water that is not flowing is causing the bacteria to grow. She said the presence of the algae has already increased within a few days, and she expects it to continue to increase throughout the end of the summer. That’s why she is encouraging people not to swim in the water or let their pets swim in the water.
Getting sick from the bacteria is easily avoidable. Kayaker Cole Verdell, said, “I don’t spend a lot of time touching the water so I wasn’t too worried about it. It wasn’t going to stop me, but I was definitely shocked and surprised.” Aside from keeping out of the water altogether, if you do venture in, it’s safer in bodies of water that are free flowing and chillier. Bonitatibus said, “I’d say over the next couple of weeks, whether it’s Lake Olmstead, or whether you’re in the river or the lake, make sure you’re rinsing yourself off, that you have plenty of drinking water for yourself or your pets and that you’re taking precaution.” Verdell said, “I’m going to go take a shower right away, for sure.” He also said he would make sure his dogs were washed off.
If you get to a body of water that you’re unsure is safe, it’s recommended to keep out. Bonitatibus said, “If it looks yucky, stay out of it.”