Posted on December 4, 2021 12:00 PM by Maggie McLening
Lake Water Quality December 4, 2021
LCRA water quality tests in November did not detect toxicity from blue-green algae in lakes Buchanan, Inks, LBJ, Marble Falls or Travis. Samples taken offshore in Travis Landing also showed an improvement in overall water quality. Nevertheless, LCRA continues to urge people and pets to avoid contact with algae because there is always a chance that algae can start producing toxins without any visible signs.
Toxicity was last detected in the Highland Lakes back in June, when small amounts of cyanotoxins were determined to be present in the algae, but not at quantifiable levels. However, one Travis Landing resident had a scare just before Thanksgiving when her dog had to be rushed to an emergency clinic with severe vomiting after swimming in Lake Travis. The clinic was unable to detect any toxins and the pet has since recovered, yet the onset of the illness seems more than a coincidence. To keep pets safe, rinse their paws when they leave the park or arrive home.
As reported last month, the toxin testing closest to Travis Landing is now at Arkansas Bend Park. Our LCRA biologist called to say that nothing was detected there in November and that a new SPATT bag is in place to collect a sample during December so we should have those results in mid-January. The City of Austin is also conducting testing in Lake Austin and Lady Bird Lake. The outbreak of cyanotoxins last February showed that cold weather does not prevent the problem so we have to watch out for blue-green algae on the shore. For more information visit
The latest offshore water samples tested by John Anderson show a great improvement in the level of dissolved oxygen up to 7 milligrams per liter. This is most likely due to cooler water temperatures because LCRA has had similar readings in deeper water for a couple of months. John is a member of the Colorado River Watch Network and his full results are posted on the network’s website every month. If you click on the entry for Site 463, located in segment 1404, you can see monitoring data for Travis Landing going back to May of this year:
Here is a summary of the most recent Travis Landing results:
Posted on November 6, 2021 12:00 PM by Maggie McLening
Travis Landing Water Quality Blog November 6, 2021
LCRA collected our last SPATT (Solid Phase Adsorption Toxin Testing) bag for analysis on October 28 and has now discontinued testing for toxins at Travis Landing due to lack of funds and manpower. The situation may change when 2022 budgets are allocated but for now, we are relying on John Anderson’s monthly tests of general water quality to indicate other conditions. LCRA has also agreed to provide us with results from Arkansas Bend Park at Lago Vista, the nearest toxin testing site to us: 
Arkansas Bend Park was selected for a permanent SPATT bag location because it has good public access and had the highest levels of toxins recorded over the past year.  However, the park is some distance from Travis Landing, across Lake Travis from the other side of Hudson Bend, so those readings may not be very relevant to Travis Landing. Anatoxin-a and dihydroanatoxin-a were found primarily in algae growing close to the peninsula shore and LCRA will no longer take or test samples from our park.
LCRA’s best safety advice is to make a habit of being cautious. The ‘Caution’ notice has been replaced on the park gate and the two other notices on the way down to the beach will remain in place for now. Assume that any algae on the shore may have toxic blooms and keep pets and kids away from those areas. (See previous blogs for pictures). If anyone accidentally treads in the algae, rinse feet or paws immediately with clean water - dogs are most at risk from licking between their toes to dry off. It’s important to note that cyanotoxins don’t dissolve or disperse evenly in water but tend to remain in patches, mostly in shallow water close to the shore.   
The latest water samples tested by John Anderson show a slight improvement in the level of dissolved oxygen from 3.0 to 4.25 milligrams per liter, most likely due to cooler weather. John is a member of the Colorado River Watch Network and his full results are posted on the network’s website every month. If you click on the entry for Site 463, located in segment 1404, you can see monitoring data for Travis Landing going back to May of this year:  
Here is a summary of the most recent Travis Landing results:
Posted on September 30, 2021 12:01 AM by Maggie McLening
Three Cyanotoxins Found in Austin Lakes
No neurotoxins were detected in the SPATT (Solid Phase Adsorption Toxin Testing) bag at Travis Landing this month but on September 27 the City of Austin reported finding cyanotoxins in Lady Bird Lake and Barton Creek. LCRA is therefore advising us to keep a look out for any blue-green algae near our shoreline. All types of algae thrive in warm shallow water with little movement, such as that surrounding our peninsula and we must keep our dogs away from it.
Three different toxins were found in Lady Bird Lake. They were in algae samples taken on September 13 from Cold Spring, between MoPac and Red Bud Isle, Auditorium Shores, South First Street bridge and the Festival boat ramp. Some sites had only dihydroanatoxin (the main cyanotoxin found at Travis Landing) and some had both cylindrospermopsin and homoanatoxin-a. All three toxins were found in samples from Red Bud Isle and it remains closed with warnings posted for pet owners. Algae can move around, however and may be present in other areas of the lake. Mats of algae are often mixed in with other vegetation, especially an aquatic plant called Cabomba. 
In this photo from Friday, September 17, 2021, Cyanobacteria is showing up as brown, yellow and blue blobs among Cabomba plants.
The City of Austin also detected concerning levels of cylindrospermopsin in Barton Creek at Sculpture Falls, near MoPac and Loop 360. Samples were taken on September 9 after a report of a human illness and results were received on Sept 22. Levels detected were above EPA guidance values for recreational use, so the City of Austin has posted warning signs at access points to the Barton Creek Greenbelt near Sculpture Falls.
Here are the results of the latest water quality tests conducted by John Anderson at Travis Landing:
Note: The level of dissolved oxygen is still very low and may affect fish off our shoreline. LCRA has been made aware of this.
Posted on September 4, 2021 5:00 PM by Maggie McLening
Lake water quality looks good for Labor Day weekend, according to LCRA reports and Travis Landing testing on behalf of the Colorado River Watch Network. No cyanotoxins were detected in any of the SPATT (Solid Phase Adsorption Toxin Testing) bags deployed by the LCRA in Lake Travis during August, including the bag closest to Travis Landing at Arkansas Bend. Unfortunately, the original bag attached to the buoy off the peninsula was found to be missing at the end of July, so its replacement was not sent off for analysis until last week.
The only slight area of concern is that the level of dissolved oxygen has fallen considerably since last month to only 3 milligrams per liter of water which can cause fish to suffocate.  The drop may be due to the current weather or the shallowness of the water being sampled. Hot weather can trigger rapid growth of algae which then dies and decays equally quickly. Warm water holds less oxygen than cold water in any case and LCRA has recorded levels of 7 mg/L closer to the center of the lake.
John Anderson also began testing for E.coli bacteria in Lake Travis in late August. Elevated levels of bacteria are usually found after heavy rain so it was reassuring that none were detected in his initial samples. E.coli analysis takes much longer than the other water quality measurements because the bacteria have to be cultured in a Petrie dish inside an incubator held at a constant 35 Celsius. After 24 hours of feeding on a sugar-based solution called Coliscan Easygel, the bacteria form colonies or clusters easy to see with the naked eye. E.coli colonies show up as a deep purple color which is absent from the Travis Landing results, although other coliform bacteria are clearly present.
Water contaminated by E coli bacteria can cause gastrointestinal illness, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic and wound infections. Outbreaks of E coli may be the result of untreated human sewage, failing septic tanks, livestock agriculture, pets, wildlife and illegal connections from home sewer systems. One of the reasons why the River Watch program was set up about 30 years ago was Austin’s rapid growth. Pressure from the increased population coupled with inadequate effluent treatment resulted in high levels of bacteria being released into the Colorado River during the 1980s. Levels were reduced over time once monitoring commenced through improved wastewater treatment.  
First E.coli testing results from Travis Landing:
Example of positive E.coli results provided by LCRA:
Posted on July 30, 2021 8:00 AM by Maggie McLening
Travis Landing Water Quality Monitoring
In late February 2021, LCRA detected cyanotoxins in algae growing along the shoreline in Travis Landing. The most prevalent was dihydroanatoxin-a and it is suspected to have been the cause of several dogs becoming ill and dying after playing in Lake Travis. Lower levels of Anatoxin-a were also found, primarily in filamentous algae. LCRA continues to conduct tests for cyanotoxins throughout the Highland Lakes and those results are now being combined with Travis Landing’s own water quality monitoring to protect people and pets.  
Longtime Rainbow One residents, Toddy and John Anderson, joined the Colorado River Watch Network in May and, after completing LCRA training, they have started testing water samples along our shoreline every month. They measure and record the levels of dissolved oxygen and nitrate nitrogen; the pH balance; the specific conductance of lake water along with water temperatures and weather conditions. Deviations from any of the typical recorded range of measurements can provide early warning of changes or issues impacting the delicate ecosystem balance that trigger the growth of toxic algae.  
On July 1st LCRA halted testing algae for cyanotoxins and installed a permanent SPATT (Solid Phase Adsorption Toxin Tracking) bag made of porous synthetic resin to collect offshore water samples instead. The contents of the SPATT bag will be tested for Anatoxin-a and dihydroanatoxin-a on a monthly basis with the next results due in mid-August. In the meantime, a water sample collected from the Travis Landing peninsula on July 25 showed test results well within the normal range, indicating no cause for concern with lake water at the moment.
As temperatures rise, however, LCRA recommends treating all algae as if it could be toxic and avoiding contact with it in any of the Highland Lakes. Water quality monitoring in Travis Landing is intended to provide an early warning system for our community. Decaying organic matter combined with warm weather and excessive algal growth can result in low levels of dissolved oxygen, causing fish to die. Similarly, a high pH balance indicating alkalinity in lake water or elevated levels of nitrate nitrogen can also stimulate algal growth and kill fish. Specific conductance is an electrical measurement of water quality that indicates the presence of salts or heavy metals, possibly from run-off.  High conductivity levels over 1000 µS/cm may be harmful to humans or aquatic life.
So how can you recognize algae? This is what it looks like:
Chunk algae found along the shoreline in Travis landing
Filamentous algae found along the Travis Landing peninsula
Algae thrive in shallow water with plenty of nutrients and we can help reduce man-made sources of nutrients:
  • Pick up and properly dispose of pet waste
  • Reduce the use of phosphorus fertilizer on lawns
  • Don’t dump lawn clippings, leaves or other yard waste into storm drains, creek beds or the lake
  • Have septic systems inspected and pumped at least every three to five years
  • Use silt fences, containment barriers and other best management practices to prevent runoff of nutrient-laden sediment
  • Plant and maintain vegetative buffer strips along shorelines of lakes, ponds and streams. Native plants are much more effective at filtering runoff than grass typically found on residential lawns
Testing for E coli bacteria is also due to start soon in Travis Landing. While less deadly to dogs or people than cyanotoxins, water contaminated by E coli bacteria can cause gastrointestinal illness, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic and wound infections. Outbreaks of E coli may be caused by untreated human sewage, failing septic tanks, livestock agriculture, pets, wildlife and illegal connections from home sewer systems. Travis Landing continues to rely on the LCRA to conduct testing for cyanotoxins which are mostly found in the chunk and filamentous algae growing along the peninsula when lake levels fall.
For more information:
Posted on May 3, 2017 4:00 PM by Admin
Categories: General
Welcome to the new Travis Landing blog!