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LCRA continues to urge pet owners to keep dogs out of Lake Travis after cyanotoxins confirmed

Officials say they have had reports of one dog dying and five dogs getting sick after playing in the Hudson Bend area of Lake Travis.

AUSTIN, Texas — As of March 12, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) is still urging pet owners to keep their animals out of the water in the Hudson Bend area of Lake Travis after reports of dogs falling ill.

Late March 12, LCRA received test results from water and blue-green algae samples from 10 locations on Lake Travis. The tests revealed the presence of cyanotoxins in algae from each of those sites, and the presence of small amounts of cyanotoxins in water samples taken from three sites.

“We can’t stress this enough – out of an abundance of caution, do not let your dogs touch or ingest algae from the lakes,” said John Hofmann, LCRA executive vice president of Water. “We know even a little toxicity from blue-green algae can be harmful or even fatal to dogs.”

The test results showed the presence of dihydroanatoxin-a, a type of cyanotoxin, at: Arkansas Bend Park, Bob Wentz Park, Comanche Point, Cypress Creek Park, Lakeway City Park, Mansfield Dam Park, Pace Bend Park, Sandy Creek Park, Tom Hughes Park and Travis Landing. The results showed small amounts of the same cyanotoxin in lake water near Bob Wentz, Sandy Creek and Arkansas Bend.

Credit: KVUE

The LCRA has not received any additional reports of dogs becoming ill after swimming in Lake Travis over the past two weeks. It earlier received reports of two dogs dying and five others becoming ill after swimming in the Travis Landing neighborhood near Hudson Bend or the Comanche Point area on the other side of the lake.

Cyanotoxins from blue-green algae have impacted Austin in years past, also prompting warnings for dog owners. 

A sign warning neighbors to not let their dogs swim in Lake Travis was put up outside of their private neighborhood park, which is right on Lake Travis in the Hudson Bend area.  

KVUE spoke to Rick Thompson, the vice president of the Travis Landing Property Owners Association and chairman of the park where he says the reported incidents happened. 

"The area where this happened is a fairly stagnant area," Thompson said. "There's a peninsula that goes out into the lake and most of the dogs were off to the right where it's fairly stagnant because that's not where the water flows in Lake Travis."

He said once they were notified of the incidents, they started notifying property owners in the community and sent out emails. 

"I would keep my dog out of the water, wouldn't let him drink for the water, and I'd stay out of the water myself," he said. 

Raymond Slade, a certified professional hydrologist that also teaches at Austin Community College, said he could only speak generally on the topic, but told KVUE a few possible causes for bacteria to get into a body of water, if that is the case, could be leaking sewer lines or urban runoff from yards nearby. 

His advice includes avoiding swimming in coves in lakes that are fed by a small creek, because pollution could accumulate in those coves. 

Last year, toxic blue-green algae was found in Auditorium Shores, Red Bud Isle and Festival Beach. It was the same species of blue-green algae that killed at least five dogs in 2019.

Dr. Schonna Manning, a research assistant professor with the Department of Molecular Biosciences at The University of Texas at Austin, told KVUE toxic blue-green algae usually thrives in Austin during the summer time.

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