Aggressive treatment begins on presumed blue-green algae at Prospect Lake in Colorado Springs

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COLORADO SPRINGS — The presumed return of the toxic blue-green algae closing Prospect Lake for the second summer in a row.  

“Blue-green algae is a bacteria. It releases a microcystin toxin that is hazardous if it so heated by people and pets,” said Erik Rodriguez, health, safety and environmental specialist with the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department. 

This presumed bloom is two months ahead of last year’s blue-green algae breakout, which caused the lake to close for 12 weeks. 

“Last year, we were unable to really treat it because we hadn’t found a treatment that was really acceptable, that was really going to kill off all the aquatic life or be detrimental to the lake a whole. We wanted to find something that was ecologically safe for the whole lake ecosystem. So, we had to let the cyanobacteria run its course and wait for the cold weather,” Rodriguez said. 

The city says toxic algae is common in lakes across Colorado and multiplies quickly in conditions that include sustained hot weather, stagnant water, and polluted stormwater runoff. 

After a visual inspection Monday, Prospect Lake was closed, with testing in the works. 

“The closure if just for entry into the body of water. We don’t want people drinking it or entering the body of water, or pets. So, pets, it’ll concentrate on their fur and they’ll lick it off and that’s when it becomes toxic to them,” Rodriguez said. 

This year, an enzyme based treatment was started on the lake. 

The city says it’s not a pesticide and is both human and pet safe. 

“The enzymes are going to start eating away at the biomass that’s down at the bottom, which is our nutrient load. And they also start eating away at the cyanobacteria. It’s just something that’s going to take some time though,” Rodriguez said. 

According to the city, fishing and noncontact motorized boating with a permit will still be allowed during the lake’s closure.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife recommends the fish be properly descaled and gutted before consumption.

The city is also working on a plan to prevent or, at least, limit blue-green algae blooms in the future. 

Test results from Prospect Lake are expected Friday. 

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