COLORADO SPRINGS — Prospect Lake in Colorado Springs is closed after warm temps and a high amount of nutrients in the water caused an outbreak of harmful algae, according to parks officials.
Last week, Colorado Springs parks officials noticed hundreds of fish dying off in Prospect Lake. They tested the water with the help of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Colorado Parks and Wildlife and realized they had an outbreak of green-blue algae, or algae bloom.
“The algae get an abundance of nutrients and a good chunk of sunlight and takes off,” said Erik Rodriguez with the parks department. “It releases a toxin called microcystin.”
That has made the water basically poisonous.
The state health department said swimming in and drinking the contaminated water is toxic to humans, and even worse for pets.
“The toxin will actually dry into their fur, and then they’ll lick it off their fur and get a high concentration of that toxin and it will kill them,” Rodriguez said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said breathing in contaminated water droplets or mist can also make people sick.
The icky stuff, which looks like thick pea soup floating on the water, is also polluting profits.
Jacob Figeroa is the owner of SUP Colorado Springs. He said usually has 50 to 100 people paddle the lake daily in the summer, but the restrictions are hurting his business.
“It affects us tremendously,” Figeroa said. “We are seasonable business, because of our winters, so having the lake shut down definitely affects the activities and the business itself.”
Figeroa said his business still operates out of Quail Lake, which is not affected by the algae, but Prospect Lake is bigger and often busier.
Rodriguez said they are trying to speed up the process, but ultimately nature will need to run its course.
“We are currently pushing some water in there to fill the lake up,” Rodriguez said. “That was already our plan. That’s actually helping aerate the water, getting some oxygen in there, and that’s going to help this bloom go away. So we are being somewhat proactive in it.”