News Releases

Revised District policy promotes algae awareness; Advises: When in doubt, stay out.

Published April 13, 2015

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Portland District is advancing public awareness of potentially toxic blue-green algae blooms at the Corps reservoirs throughout Oregon.

Through a policy change, Portland District will no longer regularly test for blue-green algae blooms on its Oregon reservoirs. Emphasis now is to increase public awareness of the potential for blue-green algae blooms that may be harmful to people and pets. 

Educational posters and permanent awareness signs are located at Corps-managed reservoir access points in the Willamette River Basin, at Lost Creek Reservoir in the Rogue River Basin and Willow Creek Reservoir in eastern Oregon. Taking the time to review the posted information will improve the public’s ability to identify a bloom and inform visitors of actions they can take to protect themselves and their pets when a bloom is present.

“It can take more than a week to collect, analyze and receive test results from water samples for a potentially toxic blue-green algae bloom,” explained Portland District Chief of Operations Dwane Watsek. “Our past practice of waiting for the results before advising the public promotes a false sense of security among our visitors. Boaters, swimmers and other water recreation users began to rely on the presence or absence of public health advisories to plan their recreation in Corps reservoirs.”

Historically, Oregon Health Authority public health advisories were posted at Dexter, Dorena, Fall Creek, Fern Ridge, Lookout Point, Hills Creek, Detroit, Cougar and Blue River reservoirs in the Willamette River Basin, Lost Creek Reservoir in the Rogue River Basin and Willow Creek Reservoir in eastern Oregon.
While Corps reservoirs remain open to recreational users during a blue-green algae bloom, posted information will urge visitors to exercise personal judgment when water exhibits signs of a bloom. Precautions include:
• Staying out of affected water
• Keeping children and pets away
• Not drinking or cooking with the affected water
• Washing thoroughly with another water source if in contact with affected water.

For additional information and updates from the Corps about harmful algae blooms, including information about contact by pets, visit

The Oregon Health Authority tracks algal blooms in Oregon and other federal, state and local agencies will continue to monitor and test water in Lookout Point, Hills Creek, Detroit, Cougar and Blue River reservoirs. Find out more about these blooms and precautions on the OHA web site. For specific inquiries about blooms, contact the Oregon Health Authority: (for recreational advisories), or (for more information about the changing landscape and harmful algae).

The Washington departments of Health and Ecology work together to track and test algae blooms. Find more about blooms in Washington waterbodies:  (for information on current blooms, available resources and technical information) or  (for information on algal identification and toxicity testing).

Amy Echols

Release no. 15-013

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