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Mecklenburg County Warns Park Visitors To Avoid Ponds After Toxic Algae Found

Pond at Park Road Park where tests found toxic algae-like organism.
Mecklenburg County
Pond at Park Road Park where tests found toxic algae-like organism.

Mecklenburg County is warning of a toxic blue-green organism that resembles algae in the water at south Charlotte’s Park Road Park.  It can kill pets who drink or come into contact with the water and sicken humans. 

People are also being warned to avoid ponds at thirteen other Mecklenburg county parks that are being tested for the substance.

Although, it's referred to as algae, it's not. It's an organism called cyanobacteria that looks like algae when it clusters. Cyanobacteria can cause a rash, fever or, in some cases, a serious illness or death, according to the federal EPA.  It also reduces oxygen levels in water, which can lead to fish kills. 

News outlets have reported at least two other area ponds have also tested positive for the algae-like organism, including in the Tall Oaks neighborhood in Mooresville and at Robbins Park in Cornelius. In Wilmington, at least three dogs have reportedly died after swimming in lakes containing the blue-green scum.

In South Carolina, the organism has been found along the shoreline of Lake Wateree, according to The State newspaper. There's no blanket advisory against swimming there, but state health officials tell swimmers to avoid areas where they can see it.  

Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation says it will test ponds in the following thirteen parks over the next two weeks: Freedom Park, Hornet’s Nest Park, Marshall Park, Beatty Park, Elon Park, Reedy Creek Park, McAlpine Park, Clarks Creek Nature Preserve, Ribbonwalk Nature Preserve, Sherman Branch Nature Preserve, Davie Park, Idlewild Park, Ezell Farm Park.

The warning is only for ponds. The blue-green organism typically doesn't grow in creeks and streams with flowing water.