The Calaveras County Water District recently conducted testing for harmful algal blooms (HABs) in all water supply sources for its drinking water systems, and the results showed no HABs were present. Tests were also performed in a reclaimed water storage pond on Sandalwood Drive in Forest Meadows, and those results were initially reported incorrectly by CCWD to be absent for harmful algae. Upon further analysis, it was determined the Forest Meadows effluent pond does contain harmful algae and is not safe for human or animal contact. The prevalence of HABs is a relatively new development in the area, and the District is working with the Calaveras County Department of Environmental Health and the State Water Board to better understand the causes and respond appropriately. CCWD is releasing this information to correct to the press release it sent out on September 5, 2019, and apologizes for any confusion caused by initial reports regarding the Forest Meadows effluent storage pond.
To protect public health in Forest Meadows, the District constructed a barrier fence around the effluent storage pond and posted signs warning resident to avoid contact with the water. CCWD urges residents to take the following precautionary measures when in the area of the pond, per the State Water Board’s recommendations:
- Heed all instructions on posted advisories, if present
- Avoid algae and scum in the water and on the shore
- Keep an eye on children and do not let them enter the water
- Do not let pets and other animals go into or drink the water, or eat scum/algal accumulations on the shore
- Don’t drink the water or use it for cooking
- If you catch fish, throw away guts and clean fillets with tap water or bottled water before cooking
Over the past few months, HABs have been identified in Calaveras County and throughout California by the State Water Resources Control Board, including in New Melones and New Hogan reservoirs (click here for more information). In light of these concerns, CCWD tested the raw water sources for its water treatment plants and no HABs were present. Even if HABs were present, the advanced technology at the District’s water treatment plants is highly likely to remove harmful algae from the water supply, however, it is not 100 percent effective and the science is still evolving in this area. Accordingly, the District will continue to closely monitor the water supply and work with local and state experts to ensure public health is protected.
CCWD took water samples at the following locations:
- White Pines Lake at the Community Park
- Hunter Reservoir in Avery
- CCWD tunnel tap off of the Collierville tunnel in Avery
- San Antonio Creek in Sheep Ranch
- Lake Tulloch on Black Creek Arm at the Copper Cove HOA Kiva boat docks
- Middle Fork of the Mokelumne River at pump station on Charles Ave. in West Point
- Bear Creek at Robinville Drive in West Point
- Regulating Reservoir off of Winton Road in West Point
- New Hogan Reservoir in Valley Springs
Over the past five years, warmer temperatures in the summer have led to an increase in algae blooms. HABs are problematic because they can affect multiple beneficial uses including recreation, aquatic life, and drinking water by reducing aesthetics, lowering dissolved oxygen concentration, causing taste and odor problems, and producing potent toxins, according to the State Water Board.
Per the State Water Board, dogs and children are most likely to be affected by HABs, because of their smaller body size and tendency to play in the water for longer periods. Dogs are especially susceptible, because they swallow more water while swimming and are less deterred by unsightly, smelly water that may contain HABs.
Even in areas where testing came back absent for HABs, residents should be aware that toxins could develop after testing occurs or be present in other portions of these bodies of water, even if an algae bloom is not visible.