Water in Barton Creek at Sculpture Falls deemed unsafe after toxin found, Austin officials warn

The toxin can cause liver and kidney damage for both humans and pets, officials say

AUSTIN – Austin officials are warning people and pets to avoid the water in Barton Creek at Sculpture Falls after a toxin was found in a water sample last week.

The water sample was taken on Sept. 9 and the results came back Sept. 22, which showed elevated levels of cylindrospermopsin -- a toxin produced by certain types of cyanobacteria or blue-green algae.

City officials said the levels were found to be above the Environmental Protection Agency’s guidance values for recreational use.

This toxin differs from other incidents of toxic algae because it was found in a water sample, whereas past incidents have been found in algae samples. This means there is an increased risk of exposure for humans.

The toxin can cause liver and kidney damage for both humans and pets, officials say. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, headache and bloody diarrhea.

Officials ask those to seek medical help if they believe they have been exposed and to call 3-1-1 to report harmful algae illnesses in humans or pets.

For more information on algae levels in Austin, you can visit the city’s website.

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About the Author:

Emily Martin is a digital producer trainee at KSAT. She earned a journalism degree from Texas State University, where she was news director at KTSW, the campus radio station. She has also interned at KXAN and KUT in Austin.