Signs posted over algae on Willamette River

The Department of Environmental Quality is testing the algae to determine if it is toxic.

Authorities posted Health Advisory signs on the Willamette River in downtown Portland while waiting for test results on blue-green algae to come back, Sept. 17, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Authorities posted Health Advisory signs on the Willamette River in downtown Portland while waiting for test results on blue-green algae to come back, Sept. 17, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The health advisory for the Willamette River in downtown Portland remains in effect at least until test results come back for an algae bloom spotted on Tuesday.

The fluorescent algae stretched from the Ross Island Channel to the Fremont Bridge, prompting the Oregon Health Authority to issue the health advisory.

The Willamette Riverkeepers posted signs in the area warning people about the issue.

“It’s a precautionary measure and given that we’ve seen a lot of algae over the last few days, it definitely has been present,” said Travis Williams, the executive director of the Willamette Riverkeepers.

The Department of Environmental Quality is testing the algae to determine if it is toxic. Test results will be back on Thursday, at the soonest.

Boaters said they’d seen the bloom building for days. When asked why a warning wasn’t issued earlier, Rebecca Hillwig with the Oregon Health Authority said, “We rely on people to let us know blooms are forming.”

The first tips the OHA got were from people on the river who sent photos.

“We want to make sure we get the word out as quickly as possible,” Hillwig said, “and that was almost immediately after we saw the pictures that person had taken of the bloom.”

The Willamette Riverkeepers said it’s been about three years since a problem this widespread happened on the river.

The algae typically is formed by warm temps causing warm water and a lack of rain producing a low, slowly moving river.

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