VDH expands harmful algae bloom advisory on Shenandoah River

Signs hang at parts of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River.
Signs hang at parts of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River.(whsv)
Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 6:38 PM EDT
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SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is expanding its harmful algae bloom advisory for parts of the Shenandoah River.

Health officials advise you not to swim in more than a 50-mile stretch of the river from Deer Rapids Boat Ramp to Riverton Boat Ramp.

Dr. Colin Greene with the Lord Fairfax Health District says more reports have been made of algae mats or river slime since the end of July.

The algae produces toxins that can irritate your skin and can be deadly for dogs and other animals that can eat it. The advisory stretches from parts of Edinburg up to Front Royal.

As a result, Strasburg, Woodstock and Winchester officials are monitoring drinking water from the river.

“All three are actively monitoring the content in the river and thus far, they haven’t found anything over above what is acceptable and they’ve also stepped up their own water processing systems,” Dr. Greene said.

VDH has an interactive map where you can see which parts of the river are under the advisory.

Algae blooms can occur when warm water and nutrients combine to make conditions favorable for algae growth. Most algae species are harmless, however, some may produce irritating compounds or toxins.

Because it is difficult to tell the difference, VDH advises everyone to avoid discolored water, scums, or mat material that are green or bluish-green because they are more likely to contain toxins, especially in areas with advisories.

Please note that mats growing along the river bottom may detach and float with river flow and may accumulate along downstream shorelines.

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