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Austin treats Lady Bird Lake to prevent toxins

Austin Watershed Protection Department was on the water on Wednesday using a clay compound against toxic algae.

AUSTIN, Texas — City crews are hoping to keep toxic algae on Lady Bird Lake from spreading this summer.

A barge with the Austin Watershed Protection Department was out on Lady Bird Lake near Festival Beach Park on Wednesday using what's called Phoslock, a chemically modified clay compound, as a preventative measure against toxins.

"Promote growth of desired algae and prevent and use the growth of less-desired algae,” said Brent Bellinger with the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department on the goal of the operation.

He said that on May 30, water samples on Red Bud Isle tested positive for toxins. They used Phoslock – the same thing they used on Wednesday at Festival Beach Park. May was not only time we there have been toxins in Lady Bird Lake; it also happened in 2019.

"A number of dogs passed after swimming in the Arboretum and at Red Bud Isle. When we sampled algae that was present, we found the presence of this neurotoxin and we put up signage closed some of the park for 2019," said Bellinger.

Bellinger said you have to swallow the algae in order to get the toxin exposure.

Bellinger said the water now meets contact recreation standards so people can paddleboard.

In general, Bellinger always encourages you keep your pets away from plants by the water, because algae usually occurs near the shore.


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