Laurel Leader

Toxic algal blooms found in T. Howard Duckett Reservoir in Laurel; utility warns against touching water

The Triadelphia Reservoir is located on the Patuxent River in Howard and Montgomery counties. In July, a water utility advised people not to touch the water in the reservoir because of blue-green algae.

High concentrations of blue-green algae have been found in the T. Howard Duckett Reservoir in Laurel, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission said Thursday.

In July, the water utility told visitors recreating on the Triadelphia Reservoir to avoid contact with the water because of the algal blooms, which produce cyanotoxins, which can have harmful effects on the health of humans and animals if consumed or touched.


Drinking water from the two reservoirs along the Patuxent River in Montgomery, Howard and Prince George’s counties has not been affected, but the commission is monitoring the water at Patuxent Water Filtration Plant. The reservoirs and surrounding areas are used for hiking, fishing and boating.

People who touch the water in either reservoir should rinse off immediately with clean water, the utility said. The commission also advised people to wash fish caught in the reservoirs before eating them and not to consume fish organs.

One floodgate remains open on the Howard T. Duckett Dam as it holds back a chock-full Rocky Gorge Reservoir near Interstate 95 in Laurel in June 2006.

Blue-green algae are a naturally occurring form of bacteria in bodies of water that sometimes release harmful chemicals, particularly in the hotter months. Health effects that can come from contact with algae blooms include skin irritation or rashes, nausea or gastrointestinal distress, disorientation, numbness and fatigue.

People who come into contact with water at either of the two reservoirs should call their local county health department:

  • Montgomery County: 240-777-0311 (Montgomery County 311)
  • Prince George’s County: 301-883-4748 (Prince George’s County 311)
  • Howard County: 410-313-1773 (Community Hygiene Department)