Cyanobacteria

Look out for Algae Blooms in your Recreational Environment!

What are they?

Cyanobacteria are often called blue-green algae. Some cyanobacteria can produce toxins that can harm people, animals and the environment. Some factors that influence cyanobacteria growth are warm, calm water, and high nutrient runoff. There are no toxins present in treated water produced for consumption.

What should I do?

When in doubt, stay out! If you see a green scum on the water, do not go into the water. If you think you or your pets have been exposed, rinse exposed skin and fur with fresh soap and water and contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health at 1-800-PA-HEALTH. For more information about the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County's Cyanobacteria monitoring program, contact 724-755-5800.

What is being done?

MAWC monitors the Beaver Run Reservoir in Westmoreland County and the Mill Run Reservoir in Fayette County for algae, and if cyanobacteria is present at levels deemed unsafe by the Environmental Protection Agency, signs will be posted warning recreational users of our source water to stay away from the water.

The water treatment plants also monitor source water and finished water to ensure that no cyanotoxin enters the drinking water supply. Click here for a list of associated things we test for and why. 

Exposure

Adults, children, pets, fish and livestock can be exposed to cyanotoxins through skin contact, ingestion, or inhalation.

Symptoms

In people --

Ear, eye, nose, skin, and throat irritation, and headache

Paralysis, respiratory illness, and seizures

Abdominal pain, diarrhea, liver and kidney problems, and vomiting

In pets --

Drooling, diarrhea, low energy, not eating, stumbling, tremors, and vomiting

For More Information

EPA:  https://www.epa.gov/cyanohabs

DEP: https://www.dep.pa.gov/Business/Water/HABs/Pages/default.aspx