Big Bear Lake update, July 1, 2020

Big Bear Lake took on a greenish hue near Bear Valley Dam as an algae bloom popped up on the lake around June 27. That bloom as dissipated, but other areas have been reported since.

The State Water Resources Control Board has issued its HAB Incident Report and Big Bear Lake is on the list. The harmful algal bloom report notes areas in California bodies of water where harmful algal blooms have been reported.

Four areas in Big Bear Lake are on the list: Mallard Lagoon, Boulder Bay, North Shore Landing and Stanfield Cutoff. The Mallard Lagoon site is listed at danger level, Stanfield Cutoff at warning level and the other two are caution.

Mike Stephenson, general manager for the Big Bear Municipal Water District, said the control board found a couple of pockets of algae that tested positive for toxins, but there isn’t cause for concern. The Mallard Lagoon pocket is about 6 inches of water, more like mud in a small depression that is actually separated from the main body of the lake, Stevenson said. He said he’s not minimizing the matter, and visitors to the lake shouldn’t swim or put their dog into that small spot. But the main body of the water is in excellent condition; the water quality is excellent, Stephenson said. The lake is actually still blue, he said. Normally by this time of year, the color is more green, he said.

Algae is normal, and Big Bear Lake has some pockets that test positive every year, Stephenson said. The MWD started its algae education campaign early this year, and this is the first report of toxins, he said. Earlier tests showed no toxins. The most recent tests were done July 9. The areas noted with algal blooms are in areas where the water is very shallow and stagnant, Stephenson said.

Algae is a regular occurrence. You can probably find it in horse troughs, Stephenson said. And this will most likely be short-lived, he said. By mid-August the water starts to cool and algae dies off, Stephenson said.

The toxic algae can be harmful to dogs, and Stephenson reminded people no to let their pets drink the green, scummy water. And if your dog does come in contact with it, wash the pet. Dogs will lick themselves clean, Stephenson said. There are showers at the launch ramps for people and pets to rinse off after a day at the lake, he said.

There have never been any dogs harmed by the algae in Big Bear Lake that have been verified by either VCA Lakeside or Bear City Animal Hospital, Stephenson said. He brings his dogs to the office with him and they were swimming in the lake today, he said. Just don’t let them go into the water where it’s green, Stephenson said.

The MWD has not treated weeds this year to prevent algal blooms. The crews have just been harvesting, which is like a lawn mower underwater, Stephenson said. That helps maintain the water quality. If the four areas of bloom were treatable, he would do so, Stephenson said. “It’s not even a treatable bloom,” he said.

Signs are posted in the areas of concern, Stephenson said. For more information, call the MWD at 909-866-5796.

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