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Lake Billy Chinook algae advisories still bug some

KTVZ

The Oregon Health Authority has stopped testing Lake Billy Chinook for algae. Instead, this year the agency sent out a season-long ” precautionary algae advisory, ” and a recent reminder. But that still leaves some area businesses and visitors wishing it was handled another way, so as not to scare people away.

Since 2015, the lake has shown blooms in the water that consistently produce toxins higher than OHA’s health guideline values for people and pets, the agency said.

This summer, the OHA has stopped testing, citing costs as the reason for stopping. They also issued a seasonal, precautionary advisory about algae blooms in mid-June.

In past years, the frequent state advisories that would later be lifted when cyanotoxin levels dropped have left many would-be visitors confused about whether it was safe to enjoy the lake or they should just go elsewhere.

Area store manager Jim Cyr said Friday the constant alerts have scared some visitors away.

” It definitely affects your business, ” he said. ” The problem with the way Lake Billy Chinook is being handled differently than the other lakes is the fact that the visitors don’t come here. They go to another lake that has the same problem we do. ”

According to Cyr , no other surrounding lake is tested for algae. He said they have warning signs instead, which is what he’s in favor of.

“At other lakes, people have the opportunity to come to the lake and look at the conditions, and then make the decision whether they want to swim on the lake or not,” he said. ” But that’s not what is happening on Lake Billy Chinook. They are posting these media alerts and scaring people away. ”

Some Chinook visitors wouldn’t be opposed to the idea of warning signs, either.

Hunter Stokes said, ” Having signs would definitely educate people, and it would let them decide if they wanted to take that risk or not, ” based on the lake’s appearance.

Cyr said, ” They get this alert and it’s gloom and doom. The Oregon Health Authority is selling gloom and doom. ”

For more information about algae in Oregon lakes, click here.

KTVZ News Team

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