By Carlos Correa

STOCKTON (CBS13) — Over the last few weeks, more and more algae has been filling waterways around our region, with a lot of it showing up in Stockton.

Downtown visitors say it gives the city a dirty image while environmental health officials say some algae could pose a bigger problem.

Despite all the algae in the water here in downtown Stockton people are still fishing, and the smell isn’t too bad right now. Last year, there was cyanobacteria reported in the San Joaquin River, but nothing like that this time around.

Joe Avalos loves to go fishing and heads towards the river every chance he gets, but lately, he’s been keeping his contact with the water to a minimum.

“People usually want the lake water, you know blue water, but with this algae, you can just look at it and people, I have relatives in Roseville that don’t come my way,” he said.

Environmental health officials say the hot temperatures over the last few weeks have caused the thick green algae to show up in the water.

“A lot of algae in there and it just doesn’t feel right. I think the water has changed,” said Avalos.

Last summer, cyanobacteria or what they call “blue and green algae” which is a lot different from regular algae was found in the San Joaquin River. Warning signs were placed near the water urging recreational users of the health hazards.

“Algae is not a super pleasant thing for smell sometimes, but there are some types of algae that occasional produce toxins but they are extremely rare in California,” said Greg Gearheart with the State Water Resource Control Board.

“I wouldn’t swim in it not a minute, not a split second,” said Malcolm Cummings who was visiting downtown Stockton.

Officials with the State Water Resources Control Board say the cyanobacteria algae can produce toxins dangerous to humans, dogs and livestock. It can cause eye irritation, skin rashes and vomiting in people – and even cause death in dogs.

In downtown Stockton, officials describe the algae as harmless floating plants, but residents describe it in a different way.

“Like a toilet. It looked like someone through some cereal on the toilet. There is wood floating around, who’s got wood floating around?” he said.

Officials say once the temperatures start to cool off is when the algae will start to disappear and that includes some of the smell people have experienced.


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