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Algae Taking Over San Joaquin County Delta Waterways Could Pose Health Risk

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Leigh Martinez Leigh Martinez
Leigh Martinez is the multimedia journalist covering the San Joaquin...
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SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY (CBS13) – It’s green and smelly, and now health officials say it’s also toxic.

San Joaquin County’s algae problem is so bad the health department issued a warning today. Environmental health experts say you can’t tell just by looking at it, if it’s a dangerous bloom of algae or not, so they’re advising the public to just stay away from all of it.

The Delta’s algae has been a problem all summer for fishermen.

“I couldn’t imagine a fish finding your bait with all of this stuff in the water,” said Henry Posada.

And it’s causing a headache for boaters.

“I can’t even get out of my slip right now, because of the weeds and other stuff growing,” said boater Bret Forsthoff.

They say it seems like every three years the algae comes back.

“But this year it’s earlier and much more dense than typical,” said Forsthoff.

Some of it is also toxic, according to the San Joaquin County Environmental Health Department. It posted an advisory today saying to avoid the algae, which is not so easy when you live on a boat.

“I had asthma as a child and it hasn’t bothered me in years until recently,” said Dan Rogovoy, who lives on his boat.

But as of right now, the program director for Food and Recreational Health doesn’t think it’s airborne. The worry is over accidentally ingesting it, which can cause a severe allergic reaction and intestinal problems.

The Environmental Health Department says children and pets are at the highest risk, and any activities like swimming, jet skiing, and fishing where you can accidentally swallow, it should be avoided.

“I actually wouldn’t eat any fish that came out of the delta, period,” said Posada.

But health officials say you’d be surprised that many people do. For now, it’s best not to get too close.

San Joaquin County’s Environmental Health Department has no cases of people actually getting sick from the algae, but lab reports show several different kinds of algae produce toxins.

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