Colorado Algal Outbreaks Threaten Clean Water, Shows Need for Climate Action

DENVER — Climate-fueled algal outbreaks threaten Colorado’s water supplies, outdoor recreation, and wildlife and pets. The National Wildlife Federation and community leaders called on state and federal leaders to prioritize climate action to address harmful algal outbreaks following recent harmful “blooms” in Colorado lakes and reservoirs.

“These toxic algae outbreaks disproportionately impact People of Color — and only increase the health disparities Colorado communities face through infected and contaminated spaces that threaten outdoor opportunities,” said Fernando Pineda-Reyes, CEO of CREA Results. “Unless we take action now, climate change will continue to create conditions better suited for cyanobacteria for Coloradans across our State.”

"From Colorado’s headwaters and alpine lakes to the urban Sloan's Lake in Denver, we are experiencing alarming outbreaks of toxic algae and wildlife decline as a result. Climate change and nutrient pollution must be addressed to ensure clean water for all, including our children, pets and wildlife,” said Ean Tafoya, Colorado field organizer for GreenLatinos.

“Water is the lifeblood of the West, but a warming climate and other factors have made Colorado’s lakes, reservoirs and ponds increasingly at risk of algal outbreaks. These blooms of cyanobacteria are more than just an eyesore — they’re dangerous for people, pets and wildlife,” said Brian Kurzel, Rocky Mountain regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation. “Now more than ever we need Colorado’s leaders in Congress to show a clarity of purpose in confronting the causes of these algal outbreaks that is on par with the clarity we all want in our drinking water.”

According to the CDC, algal outbreaks can severely sicken people. Health effects vary depending on the kind of bacteria in the algae, but symptoms are pretty nasty and include skin irritation, rashes, blisters around the mouth and nose and other problems. Pets, in particular, can be sickened or die if exposed to algal outbreaks.

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