SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KRON) – The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is urging the public who visit the Russian River to be cautious of potentially toxic algal.

It was confirmed through testing that toxic algal mats are growing on the bottom of the Russian River. Algae or cyanobacteria can both grow on the bottom of waterways and while floating in water.

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Once bloomed, it can grow into colorful algal mats that range in a variety of colors such as dull green, orange, brown, and maroon. Algal mats can detach and lie on riverbanks.

Children and dogs are the most at-risk to the health impacts caused by toxic algal mats. Individuals should avoid touching or ingesting algal material in the water.

Dogs that have been exposed to algal mats should be washed immediately. Sonoma County is posting warning signs and will provide regular updates on the algal mats.

Some symptoms that may occur after exposure to toxic algal blooms include: sore throat, coughing, difficulty breathing, itchy skin, earache, abdominal pain, and agitation. For more information on other symptoms that may occur visit the California Water Board website.

The Water Board recommends the public practice healthy water habits by:

  • Abiding by posted advisories
  • Avoid algae in water and along the shore
  • Keep an eye on children and pets
  • Do not drink water or use it for cooking
  • Wash yourself, family, and pets with clean water after a day in the water
  • If you catch fish, dispose of guts and clean fillets with tap or bottled water before cooking
  • Avoid eating shellfish if its from water that contains algal blooms

For more information on the toxic algal mats visit the California Harmful Algal Blooms Portal.