Willow Creek Reservoir Closed due to Toxic Algae


GRAND COUNTY- Officials located toxic blue-green algae bloom in the Willow Creek Reservoir, north of Summit County, and The United States Forest Service has closed it.

The blue-green algae, cyanobacteria, is potentially toxic and produces neurotoxins and hepatotoxins. And they can cause nervous system disorders, liver failure, and death of livestock, wildlife, birds, fish, and humans.

The lake west of the U.S. Highway is blocked from all water connection activities between Granby and Grand Lake.

According to officials, dogs are at greater risk to toxic and deadly algae as they intake toxins by drinking water. Dogs can die within hours after consuming toxins. People get sick and face neurological issues and other symptoms like headache, diarrhea, nausea, liver damage, skin rash, and death in more severe cases.

Officials have advised people to rinse their dogs immediately with fresh water if they get into a harmful algae bloom. Similarly, humans should rinse off with soap and water.

Not all blue-green algae are toxic, but some types produce toxins harmful to humans and pets if consumed in more significant amounts.

For the time being, there is no such method discovered to remove toxins from lakes and prevent their growth permanently.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has recommended the following precautions:

• Keep your kids out of water

• Keep pets and livestock out of the water

• Avoid drinking water containing algae

• Do not contact water containing algae



At high water temperatures, generally 68-77 degrees, the algae multiply on the water surface and form algal blooms in the presence of extra nutrients. Some of the algae are capable of producing toxic compounds called cyanotoxins.

Northern Water officials and Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife observe and exercise the required steps to reopen the willow creek dam accordingly.

Willow Creek Reservoir in Grand County is occasionally open to non-motorized recreation. The Forest Service reported working with North Water, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Bureau of Reclamation, and others to keep people safe and analyze when the area can reopen.

What is Blue-Green Algae?

Blue-green algae are bacteria in nature but are similar to plants and algae; therefore, they are called cyano-bacteria. The word “cyano” means blue-green, and they commonly cover surface acres of lakes, rivers, ponds, and other water bodies.

The following signs indicate the presence of algae in water:

  • Dead fish or other animals.
  • unexplained illness of pets
  • Skin rashes on humans who have been in the water
  • Illness of animals and pets if they have algae in the mouth, legs, or feet.

Eventually, the toxins spread in the water and destroy the natural habitat.