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Is lake anna safe to swim in 2023? Harmful Algae Bloom explained.

With the arrival of the hot season, many families are asking, "Is Lake Anna safe to swim in 2023?" Given the lake's history of harmful algae bloom (HAB) occurrences, it is crucial to delve into the nature of HABs, their potential effects on human health, and the current state of Lake Anna. Families are asking if it's safe to swim, whether or not their pets should go in the water, and what areas of the lake to stay clear of as the harmful algae begin to bloom. So, have no fear, lake lovers! Let's get down to the nitty-gritty of it and help you make an informed decision for yourself, your families, and your pets for the 2023 year.


What the heck are Harmful Algae Blooms and why are they in Lake Anna?


Harmful algae blooms occur when the water's nutrients become imbalanced, leading to an overgrowth of a certain type of algae. These types of algae can create toxins that are harmful for both humans and animals if ingested or inhaled while swimming in the lake. This means that even if you don't see any visible signs of HAB, there could still be toxic levels present in the water, making it unsafe for swimming.


Tiny toxins coming from algae blooms are in bodies of water all over the world, and are being monitored.


The good news is that the toxins are being monitored and even forecast.


Technically speaking, algae are photosynthetic organisms that live in both fresh and salt waters all over the world. They become harmful to people, fish, animals, etc, when they grow out of control. There are many different kinds of HABS. Unfortunately, they can make people super sick.


Like any other body of water, Lake Anna has these harmful algae blooms during the hot months, starting in July or August and sometimes even as early as June.


What areas of Lake Anna are affected by HABs? How do you know where-not-to-swim?


The affected areas change from month to month. In July 2023, the only affected area was the northwestern branch, called Upper Pamunkey. Throughout the warmer months, more algae blooms will most likely be reported on the northwestern fingers.

The Harmful Algae Bloom (HAB) Task Force of the Virginia Department of Wildlife keeps track of algae blooms. They inform the public about swimming advisories, unsafe levels of harmful concentrations, and even visual confirmations of algae reported by citizens through a live map showing the affected regions.


In recent years, there have been a few significant Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) at Smith Mountain Lake, which is a well-known man-made lake near Roanoke, VA. Compared to Lake Anna, Smith Mountain Lake has a much larger area where citizens have reported HABs and a more extensive unswimmable water region during these reported HABs.

Here's what the HAB Task Force said about monitoring Lake Anna for safe swimming waters in 2023 so far:


"Monitoring at 6 sites by boat in Lake Anna above Rt. 208 and 1 site at the State Park beach occurred on 6/26/2023. Results for a site in the Upper Pamunkey, which represents the waterbody from the headwaters of Pamunkey Creek to Runnymede Park, indicated cyanobacteria were at unsafe levels. Toxins were detected at several sites but were all at acceptable levels."


No, not all HABs are visible in Lake Anna


Some algae blooms aren't seen with the naked eye. But they still exist. For this reason, it's important to pay attention to the HAB task force reports and swimming advisories. This way you can make sure to stay away from potentially dangerous areas or times where an algae bloom is present and unsafe for swimming.


YES, Lake Anna is safe to swim in 2023!


The good news is that Lake Anna is still safe to swim as long as you keep up-to-date on the latest advisories from the HAB Task Force. With proper monitoring of water quality and safety protocols, swimming can be enjoyed for many years to come!


Disclaimer: This content does not provide medical advice or diagnosis or substitute for the advice of a qualified professional.


What is being done about the HABs at Lake Anna?


The Lake Anna Civic Association and other local organizations are actively working to "Kick the HAB" in reducing the nutrient levels in the lake to help prevent harmful algae blooms. Organizations have also been advocating for further research into controlling HABs with solutions such as using copper sulfate or phosphorus-reducing products.


These initiatives don't happen overnight, so it's important to stay informed on their progress and support these causes wholeheartedly.


So there you have it! Knowing what causes harmful algae blooms and the potential risks that come with them is key to making a safe decision about swimming in Lake Anna in 2023.

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