Red sky at night

Sandra Miller recently took this photo of a sunset over Lake Belton from a barge at North Point Yacht Club Marina.

Cyanotoxins from blue-green algae were identified at Lake Belton during sampling by the Brazos River Authority — testing that was spurred when multiple dogs died following exposure to the water earlier this month.

Judi Pierce, a spokeswoman for the Brazos River Authority, confirmed that the lab results were received over the weekend.

“We did the sampling for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and did get the (positive test) results for them,” she told the Telegram. “The testing was done at a marina site, and (the blue-green algae) was found in a cove at the marina.”

Pierce — who noted that samples were collected from two areas within that cove — said the Brazos River Authority is awaiting direction from the state of Texas on whether additional testing will be necessary.

“We provided those test results to the (Texas Department of State Health Services), and we’re just waiting to hear back from them on how we should proceed,” she said. “At this time, we’re referring people over to the (Bell County Public Health District) and the Texas Department of State Health Services, since it really involves a health issue.”

However, Lake Manager Joshua Brown, who oversees Lake Belton, has previously stressed that tap water in area homes is still safe for drinking.

“We have been noticing on social media … that some people are worried about drinking water in their homes,” Brown told the Telegram in early March. “While the main source for your water may be the lake, it is treated before it goes to your home ... so you shouldn’t have to worry about drinking water in your home.”

Until these incidents are better understood, the Corps of Engineers is cautioning adjacent landowners and visitors about allowing pets to run loose on government property. Per Title 36 Section 327.11(a) pets are required to be kept on a leash, six feet or less in length, while on government property.

Amanda Robison-Chadwell, the Bell County Public Health District’s director, also urged Lake Belton visitors to take caution.

“The best course of action for residents is to avoid stagnant water where algae are present and certainly to avoid ingestion by either people or pets,” she said. “It might be easiest to keep pets away from the lake since it is somewhat difficult to keep them from drinking or playing in areas of concern.”

The county’s top public health official said it is likely that the water will be re-tested to see if the blue-green algae levels are reducing.

“But I’m not aware of when they plan to do that specifically,” she said.

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