Public urged to avoid algal blooms in Chowan River area

RALEIGH, N.C. – Officials with the N.C. Division of Water Resources are urging the public to avoid contact with green or blue water in the Chowan River due to an algal bloom that has lingered in the area since June 20.

The bloom is located about 12 miles upstream of Edenton; however, algae can easily move to other areas.

Staff with the agency’s water sciences program have identified the bloom species as Dolichospermum, a member of the blue-green family of algae. Algal blooms of this type usually appear bright green. When a bloom starts to decay, the color may change to a milky blue with the decaying algae producing a strong, foul odor.

North Carolina has had no reports of adverse health effects in people associated with this algal bloom.

State health officials encourage the public to avoid contact with large accumulations of algae, and to prevent children and pets from swimming in or ingesting water in an algal bloom.

State water quality and health officials suggest the following steps to safeguard pets and children from any algal bloom:

  • Keep children and pets away from water that appears bright green, blue, discolored or scummy. Do not handle or touch large mats of algae.
  • Avoid handling, cooking or eating dead fish that may be present.
  • If you are exposed to water where an algal bloom is occurring, wash thoroughly.
  • Use clean water to rinse off pets that have been exposed to water where an algal bloom is occurring.
  • If your child appears ill after being in water where an algal bloom is occurring, seek medical care immediately.
  • If your pet appears to stumble, stagger or collapse after being in a pond, lake or river, seek veterinary care immediately.