LCRA testing detects toxic algae in Lake LBJ and Inks Lake
Keep people and pets away from algae in the Highland Lakes
Aug. 17, 2023
BURNET AND LLANO COUNTIES, Texas – The Lower Colorado River Authority has detected toxic algae at levels that could pose a danger to dogs and people recreating in Lake LBJ and Inks Lake.austintexas.gov/page/algae. Swimming in a lake or river always carries some level of risk. Unlike swimming pools, natural water bodies are not chlorinated or disinfected. In addition to algae, other organisms such as bacteria or parasites could be present. For more information on LCRA algae testing, visit www.lcra.org/algae.Test results received this week detected high levels of toxicity in algae taken from three sites on Lake LBJ and three sites on Inks Lake. The concerning levels of toxicity were detected only in the algae itself, not in the lake water. LCRA has not received any reports of pets becoming ill in relation to algae in the Highland Lakes since 2021. “Cyanobacteria or blue-green algae typically thrive in hot, dry weather like we’ve been having,” said John Hofmann, LCRA executive vice president of Water. “The algae can begin producing toxins at any time, so our advice is to treat all algae as if it could be toxic. As we’ve been saying for years, keep people and pets away from algae in the Highland Lakes.” LCRA biologists say cyanotoxins likely are present in other areas of the Highland Lakes as well. “We haven’t tested algal material in lakes Buchanan, Marble Falls or Travis this summer, but there is every reason to believe algae there are producing toxins as well,” Hofmann said. “I can’t stress this strongly enough – don’t take an unnecessary risk with your family, friends and pets. If you see algae in the water, move somewhere else to recreate, especially if you’ve got your dog with you.’’ Cyanotoxins from algae can pose a danger to humans and pets when ingested. Toxicity can only be confirmed by scientific testing, as fragments of algae look and smell the same regardless of whether they are producing toxins. “Pet owners need to take this seriously,” Hofmann said. “Dogs will eat algae or lick it off their coats, which can have devastating consequences if the algae is producing toxins.” LCRA has regularly monitored for cyanotoxins in the water in lakes Buchanan, Inks, LBJ, Marble Falls, Travis, Bastrop and Fayette since 2021, when several dogs became sick or died after contact with algae in Lake Travis. The routine testing of lake water has detected no cyanotoxins, or at times, cyanotoxins at levels well below what the World Health Organization considers potentially harmful to humans or pets. This summer, LCRA began testing algal material in Lake LBJ and Inks Lake as part of a joint study with the City of Austin. Biologists with the City of Austin monitor for toxic algae in Lake Austin, Lady Bird Lake, and Lake Walter E. Long. Information on City of Austin monitoring is available at
The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; providing a clean, reliable water supply; and offering outdoor adventures at more than 40 parks along the Colorado River from the Texas Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to fulfilling our mission to enhance the quality of life of the Texans we serve through water stewardship, energy and community service. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934 and receives no state appropriations. For more information, visit www.lcra.org.