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Belton Lake visitors heed officials' warnings after toxins detected in the water

Posted at 7:39 PM, Mar 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 00:04:25-04

BELTON, TX — On any given morning, you can find Jim Tidmore, his wife and their 3-year-old rescue dog, Roxy, enjoying the brisk morning air on the shores of Lake Belton.

“God has brought us to a place that we really enjoy,” he explained.

The family packed their bags two years ago and made the move from Houston to Morgan’s Point.

A place that’s usually quite safe has been in the headlines after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) received reports of two dogs dying in that area after drinking some of the lake water.

“That's why we brought her some water here that we have, she’ll drink it,” Tidmore said, “But [Roxy]... just goes out there for curiosity.”

After getting the calls, the USACE requested a sample of the lake water to find out what was going on. When they got the results, it wasn’t what folks wanted to hear.

“There was elevated algae in the water, and that algae was forming a toxin which could be fatal to pets and cause problems for people," explained Clay Church, a public affairs specialist with the USACE.

Director of the Bell County Public Health District, Dr. Amanda Chadwell-Robison, says the findings are not harmful to people.

Those at the county offered advice.

“The best course of action is to avoid stagnant water areas where the algae is going to be present, and certainly to avoid ingesting that water,” said James Stafford, the public information officer for Bell County.

It’s advice Tidmore listened to.

“Keep [dogs] away from [the lake] if you can,” he said.”Don’t let them go out there and drink, because that’s the first thing a dog will do when they’re thirsty.”

Church says they’ll continue to monitor the problems areas at the lake. However, the body of water is large, so he advises anyone who sees anything unusual to report it to the lake office so they can take action and check it out.