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Cyanobacteria Spotted In The Stanislaus River Upstream Of New Melones

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Sonora, CA – State water officials are alerting recreaters about potentially dangerous bacterial conditions in a Mother Lode river upstream of a popular reservoir.

On Friday, the State Water Resources Control Board issued a warning that urges boaters and recreational water users to be very cautious until further notice when visiting the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River upstream of New Melones Lake.

The reason? There is currently a cyanobacteria bloom in that area, which is located within the boundaries of both Calaveras and Tuolumne counties. Officials specified that the bloom is not occurring in New Melones Lake but contained within the Middle Fork of the river between the new Camp Nine Road bridge and the Parrotts Ferry Road bridge.

Officials note the bacteria poses potential health risks, especially for children and animals playing in impacted areas. The current cyanobacteria bloom is described as bright green, discolored water with suspended flecks of material near the surface. As the bloom continues to grow, cyanobacteria colonies may become larger and form a film or scum on the water surface. Bloom conditions in the river can change rapidly, as the flow of surface water and wind may mix, move, or concentrate the bloom into different areas of the river.

Health experts say recreational exposure to cyanobacteria, which releases the toxin microcystin can cause breathing problems, stomach upset, skin reactions, and even liver damage. The blooms occur worldwide often in calm, nutrient-rich waters.