City of Austin increases risk level for harmful algae

The city of Austin changed the risk of harmful algae on Lady Bird Lake and Lake Austin. Both lakes have been moved from “low risk” to “high risk” as LCRA recently discovered harmful algae in the other highland lakes.

Water catchment protection personnel have also observed algae accumulations in areas of Lady Bird Lake. As a precaution, a sample was taken at Lake Austin and sent to the University of Texas at Austin for testing last week.

The results are published at


Scientists say toxic blue-green algae are likely caused by cold weather

Most of the algae on Lake Travis are harmless, but the LCRA said tests earlier this year showed toxic blue-green algae to be involved.

Do not allow dogs to touch or ingest any algae in the lakes

Dogs appear to be particularly vulnerable to the harmful algal blooms in central Texas. At least five dogs died after swimming in Lady Bird Lake in the summer of 2019. The city of Austin recommends that dog owners carefully allow their dogs in Lady Bird Lake or Lake Austin.

If you put your dogs in the water, you do so at your own risk.

The pet owner warns others after the dog dies of algae poisoning

The City of Austin recommends dog owners carefully admit their dogs into Lady Bird Lake or Lake Austin.


Dog owners should take the following precautions:

  • Before you take your dogs to the lakes, check for the latest information.
  • Do not allow dogs to touch or ingest any algae in the lakes.
  • Avoid areas with floating algae mats or standing areas of the lakes. Rinse dogs after exposure to the lakes to prevent them from licking algae from their fur.

Dog owners should take their pets to a veterinarian immediately if their dogs get sick after swimming in the lakes. Please also report the illness 3-1-1.

Symptoms of exposure can include:

  • Excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Foam in the mouth
  • Jaundice and hepatomegaly
  • Blood in the urine or dark urine
  • Stumble
  • Loss of appetite
  • Photosensitization in the recovery of animals
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Progression of muscle twitching
  • Respiratory paralysis

According to the city of Austin, there are signage at six locations around Lady Bird Lake. If toxins are detected in the algae, additional signs will be placed in the same places.

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