STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — Toxic sludge is collecting in corners, around boats and floating in patches through the Delta, turning the water bright green.
“We’re watching it every year, with climate change becoming worse and worse,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla with Restore the Delta.
Barrigan-Parrilla said this year’s bloom is the worst it’s ever been.
“This year the harmful algal blooms expand from the Port of Stockton all along the waterfront, from downtown Stockton and into the San Joaquin and Calaveras rivers,” she told FOX40.
She said the widespread algal blooms are concerning because it can be harmful to people and pets.
“Microcystis can kill animals. It can cause liver damage in preschoolers. It can make adults quite ill with everything from respiratory problems, from breathing the droplet, all the way to sick stomach, headaches, rashes,” Barrigan-Parrilla explained.
According to Restore the Delta, the cyanobacteria has reached dangerous levels and people are being told to stay out of the water.
“The water is dangerous and because it has spread out from the waterfront through Stockton. People who recreate water really need to proceed with caution,” Barrigan-Parrilla said.
Barrigan-Parrilla said she’s most worried for the homeless population living next to the water. She wants them evacuated from the waterways.
“We have this kind of perfect storm. We have homeless people encamped on the slews where there is a COVID outbreak,” she said. “We know there’s a connection between air pollution and COVID. We have bacteria from the harmful algal blooms. It is a true public health disaster in the making.”
Although algal blooms happen every year when the water temperature rises and a lack of fresh water flows into the area, Restore the Delta says it can be prevented.
“To solve this problem, it has to be a three-pronged effort,” Barrigan-Parrilla told FOX40. “There has to be a concentrated effort made by the state to clean up the pollution. The county has to remove the homeless and the public has to pay attention.”
For more information on how to protect yourself and your family from algal blooms, visit Restore the Delta’s website.