Pond at popular Charlotte park tests positive for toxic algae harmful to humans, pets

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Warning signs are being posted around several Mecklenburg County parks after a pond tested positive for a dangerous bacteria that can be harmful to people and pets.

Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation and the county's Storm Water Services tested the Park Road Park pond Thursday and found it tested positive for the toxic version of blue-green algae.

Park and Recreation said it requested Storm Water Services test 14 park properties with ponds for toxic levels of blue-green algae. The other 13 properties will be tested over the next two weeks. They include:

  • Freedom Park
  • Hornet's Nest Park
  • Marshall Park
  • Beatty Park
  • Elon Park
  • Reedy Creek Park
  • McAlpine Park
  • Clarks Creek Nature Preserve
  • Ribbonwalk Nature Preserve
  • Sherman Branch Nature Preserve
  • Davie Park
  • Idlewild Park
  • Ezell Farm Park

Warning signs will be posted around Park Road Park and the other properties starting Friday and in the coming days.


Park visitors are encouraged to avoid contact with all ponds and to not let pets enter or drink from the water.

If the algae gets on your skin, it can cause a rash. When ingested, it releases toxins and attacks the liver.

"I would imagine people let their pets drink out of the pond, and we are urging people that is not a good practice," Chris Matthews with Parks and Recreation said.

Commissioner Susan Harden, who is a dog owner, said she understands dogs' desire to gravitate toward the water, but she's asking pet owners to keep them away.

"We would hate for any dog owners in Mecklenburg County to have a sick pet or even a pet die because they inadvertently drank sick water in a pond," Harden said.

The warning is for ponds only -- creeks and streams with flowing water are not usually impacted by blue-green algae, which grows when water does not move.

The heat of the summer and stagnant water creates a breeding ground for the algae.

"My guess is we are probably going to have blue-green algae in a lot of them," Matthews said.

Officials said they are considering treatment options and will continue to monitor the affected areas until the level of blue-green algae drops below what is considered "toxic" levels.

Some areas are using a liquid copper solution, but officials said the issue with that is it can cause all the toxins to be released at once.

This comes after two area ponds tested positive for the toxic algae. A pond in the Tall Oaks neighborhood in Mooresville and one at Robbins Park in Cornelius carry the toxic algae, officials said.

Three dogs died after being exposed to the blue-green algae last week in a Wilmington pond.

Officials expect levels to drop once the weather cools down.