Evidence of blue-green algae has once again been found in samples taken from Eagle Beach at Elk Lake, prompting an advisory notice from the Capital Regional District.
In a release, the CRD said the samples tested positive for a type of blue-green algae that can produce cyanotoxins.
These algae – detected at the park before – can also cause headaches and abdominal pain in humans or lead to liver damage in dogs, if the water is ingested.
The CRD is warning visitors not to swim at Elk Lake and keep animals on a leash to prevent them from drinking or swimming in the lake. Currently, no algae has been detected in Beaver Lake, despite the bodies of water being connected.
According to the release, the algae usually produce a visible blue-green sheen, which appears as surface scum.
“Not all blooms are easy to see and toxins can still be present in the water even if you cannot see the blooms,” it reads. “Blooms are unpredictable and may occur at any time.”
The health of Elk and Beaver lakes has been deteriorating for years and is threatening its recreational uses.
In June, Glenn Harris, senior manager of CRD’s environmental protection said the region risks losing the social and economic benefits of Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park if substantial efforts to improve the water quality are not taken.
The District of Saanich currently awaits a decision from the national committee of Rowing Canada after they bid to make Elk Lake the location of the organization’s training centre and there is concern the water quality could sink those efforts.
The algae – last found in the lake in 2017 – and geese droppings are also an annual threat for the two triathlons held there each summer.
In 2016, two triathletes from California who flew to Vancouver Island to compete in the Ironman 70.3 suffered mild complications after a practice swim in Beaver Lake and chose not to compete.
In 2011, the CRD lifted a health advisory from Elk Lake just two days before more than 300 participants dove in at Hamsterly Beach for the Self Transcendence Triathlon.