Fraser Health has closed Hatzic Lake to swimmers after being notified about several concerning incidents.
Reports of algae blooms, discoloured water, and dead fish were forwarded to Fraser Health by the Fraser Valley Regional District.
The FVRD website also says “some residents have also reported symptoms of nausea, stomach cramps, itchy skin, and eye irritations after swimming and participating in other recreational water activities on the lake.”
Swimming is not allowed at Hatzic Lake until further notice and residents and visitors should try and avoid any contact with the lake water until test results become available.
Hatzic Lake is located on the north side of the Fraser River, and shares a boundary with the District of Mission and the FVRD’s Electoral Area F.
Fraser Health, Ministry of Environment, and Department of Fisheries and Oceans have been contacted and are investigating.
Timothy Millard, health protection manager with Fraser Health said while swimming has been banned, other activities are still permitted. However, people so at their own risk.
“There is a higher risk of illness if you come into direct contact with the water,” explained Millard.
He said the risk depends on the activity – boating is less risky that water skiing or sailboarding– the key is not to ingest the water or come in contact with it.
While still unclear what is causing the issue, Millard said some algae blooms can cause eye irritation and other symptoms.
“Currently the FVRD is testing to find out more about the lake’s water quality as well as the nature of the bloom.”
They are also looking to identify the potential source. Millard said some algae blooms will release toxins into the water but blooms are not common in the Fraser Health area.
“We don’t see them in a lot of our swimming lakes. We haven’t, in a number of years, we haven’t had a closure due to an algae bloom.”
There is no timeline on when the testing will be completed and, for now, the lake remains closed to swimmers.
“Precautionary measures will be in place until we feel it is safe for the public to reenter the water.”