By Jesse Sarles

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – Swimming has been banned until further notice at Bear Creek Lake Park due to bad water quality from toxic blue-green algae. Lakewood officials have shut down Big Soda Lake inside the park and say it will likely stay closed for the rest of the season.

(credit: CBS)

Aside from in Bear Creek Lake Park, Colorado testing so far this summer has found toxic algae in Prospect Lake in Colorado Springs, Barr Lake in Adams County, Cherry Creek Reservoir and Steamboat Lake. Health experts believe it likely is present in other lakes and slow-moving waters as well.

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The blue-green algae is common in waterways in Colorado but it can sometimes produce toxins that can kill dogs and be harmful to humans. If you see signs of the algae, which can look like a thick mat of foam, avoid the water.

Big Soda Lake usually closes for the season after Labor Day weekend.

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More Information From Colorado Officials

To determine if an algae bloom is toxic, officials use lab tests and test strips. Toxic algae can resemble thick pea soup, spilled paint on the water’s surface, and/or create a thick mat of foam along the shoreline.

If you see possible signs of toxic algae:

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  • Keep kids and animals out of the water.
  • Don’t swim or wade.
  • Don’t drink the water and know it’s never safe to drink water from lakes or rivers.
  • When boating, avoid the areas with the algae.
  • Clean fish well with potable water, and discard the guts.
  • Contact poison control at 1-800-222-1222, or a health care provider, if people or animals have symptoms.

More information, including guidance for managers or owners of waterbodies or owners of pets can be found at

Jesse Sarles