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Hot weather, drought conditions contribute to algal blooms in Cape Fear River

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THIS INFORMATION FROM A NEWS RELEASE SENT TO THE WWAY NEWSCHANNEL 3 NEWSROOM

RALEIGH, NC (NCDENR) -– The hot and dry weather that has dominated the area over the last several weeks is contributing to extensive algal blooms in the Cape Fear River and the Northeast Cape Fear River, according to officials with the NC Division of Water Quality.

During the last several weeks algal blooms have appeared over a 50-mile stretch of the Cape Fear River from near Fayetteville in Cumberland County to Sutton Lake in New Hanover County. They are also seen currently in a seven-mile stretch of the Northeast Cape Fear River, from north of the Crooms Bridge Road in Pender County to south of where the river crosses Highway 53. The blooms are primarily composed of bluegreen algae and may have the potential to cause health problems for humans, pets and other animals.

While it is safe to boat or fish in the affected areas, the NC Division of Public Health routinely encourages the public to avoid contact with large accumulations of the algae and to take precautions to prevent children and pets from swimming or ingesting water in an algae bloom. North Carolina has had no reports of adverse health effects in children associated with algal blooms.

Algae are usually beneficial and provide a rich food source for aquatic animals. However, when advantageous weather and biological conditions combine with nutrient-rich waters, large algal blooms may form that have the potential to negatively affect the environment.

Health officials and DWQ recommend the following steps to safeguard pets and children from any potentially harmful algae bloom:

•Keep children and pets away from water that appear very green, discolored or scummy.
•Do not handle or touch large mats of algae.
•If you come into contact with an algal bloom, wash thoroughly. Also, use clean water to rinse off pets that may have come into contact with an algae bloom.
•If your child appears ill after being in waters containing an algae bloom, seek medical care immediately.
•If your pet appears to stumble, stagger or collapse after being in a pond, lake or river, seek veterinary care immediately.

For more information on potential health effects from cyanobacterial (algal) blooms, visit the N.C. Public Health website at: http://www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/oee/safefromhab.html. To learn more about algae, visit the DWQ waterUknow! website at: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/wq/home/wyk.

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