Interior Health is notifying people who use N’Kwala (Nicola) Lake, Spaxomin (Douglas) Lake and Chapperon Lake there is a risk of exposure to cyanobacterial toxin due to the presence of a blue-green algae bloom on the lakes. Spaxomin and Chapperon Lakes join N’Kwala Lake as of July 28 on the health authority’s Beach Closure Advisory list. 

Samples of N’Kwala Lake water taken on July 18, July 10 and July 7 tested positive for the presence of cyanobacterial toxin. Interior Health closed the lake on July 13. Water samples taken on July 26 from Chapperon and Spaxomin Lakes tested positive for the same toxin. The advisories are being issued for the entire lakes at this time. Cyanobacteria can produce several types of toxin that can be poisonous to people, pets, and livestock.  

“Algae blooms can remain in a water body for weeks to months,” said IHA in a July 28 release. “Once the bloom is no longer present and two consecutive sets of samples do not show the presence of cyanobacteria toxin, Interior Health will review any beach closures and/or advisories.”

Exposure to the cyanobacteria toxin can occur through ingestion of or contact with contaminated water. 

The health authority is advising lake users of the following:

  • If you obtain drinking water from the lake, you should use an alternate source, such as bottled water. Boiling the water will not remove the toxin.
  • Do not swim in the water and avoid contact with the water by avoiding recreational activities such as, boating and waterskiing. If your skin is exposed to contaminated water, rinse off with clean water immediately.
  • Use an alternate source of drinking water for pets and livestock. 
  • Exposure to the toxins can result in symptoms that are visible shortly after exposure including dizziness, cramps, diarrhea, skin rash and mouth blisters (from ingestion).
  • If you show symptoms that may be linked to cyanobacteria exposure, contact your physician.

According to HealthLinkBC, symptoms from drinking water with cyanobacterial toxins can include: headaches, nausea, fever, sore throat, dizziness, stomach cramps, diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, muscle aches, mouth ulcers and blistering of the lips. 

Symptoms from contact with water contaminated with the toxin include skin rashes and irritation of the ears and eyes. Those who come in contact with the contaminated water are reminded to rinse their body with clean water immediately after exposure.

To report other algae blooms please visit the provincial Algae Watch webpage.