Austin gets a warning system for dog-killing algae, but no signs of deadly blooms in Lady Bird Lake so far
Even on a sweltering summer afternoon, a few dozen people still made it out to Red Bud Isle on Lady Bird Lake Tuesday to escape their homes and walk their dogs. But the place—an idyllic 13-acre dog park hidden away in West Austin—has a dark chapter in its recent history.
Exactly one year ago, a dog died after swimming near a mat of what would later turn out to be a toxic algae bloom. Over the course of the next weeks, the neurotoxin-containing species killed several more dogs before the city banned pets from the water.
The ban lasted until November, when the tests run by the city finally showed that the algae bloom had dissipated.
Now, the city, with help from University of Texas molecular biosciences professor Schonna Manning, runs regular tests of water samples from all along the lake in hopes of catching the next bloom as soon as it becomes a problem.
Developing a warning system
By sheer luck, Manning had an existing contract in place with the city of Austin last summer to study algae in Lady Bird Lake, allowing them to draw a connection between the dogs' deaths and the algae bloom quickly.
The teams has created a swift warning system, with a 1-2 day turnaround, so that as soon as toxic algae appears, the city can begin putting up signs warning the public of dangerous areas and ban pets from the water, if necessary.
"We have kind of a gauged warning system from green to red, depending on the appearance of the lake, as well as what we've found both genetically and biochemically," Manning said.
For now, at least, Manning said her team has not noticed anything in Lady Bird Lake to cause alarm. But that can change in as little as a few days.
Visiting the lake
The first major samples of the summer were taken last week and are still being analyzed.
Jonie Mulder, a writer who lives in Tarrytown, brought her dog CJ out to Red Bud Isle Tuesday. She said it was one of the first times in more than a year that she had visited. When reports came out last year about dogs dying after swimming around Red Bud Isle, Mulder said she immediately stopped going, saying it wasn't worth the risk.
Now, however, Mulder said she just hopes her dog stays away from algae mats when she swims, but that there isn't any signage around the isle to warn of any potential danger.
"As soon as they said like it was killing dogs," Mulder said she stopped going. But Mulder said CJ is "squeamish as it is" and would have avoided sludge or large algae flats, anyway.
No signs of harmful algae yet this year
Stephanie Lott, a spokeswoman for the Austin Watershed Protection Department, which works with Manning on studying the algae, told Austonia that, "When we went out last week, we did not see any suspicious looking algae to send to the UT lab."
Regardless of definitive tests on the presence of toxic algae, Manning said the most important thing for anyone letting their dog swim in any body of water, not just Lady Bird Lake, is to trust their eyes and nose.
"If you look at the water and it looks kind of scuzzy, and there is stuff floating on top, that's definitely a warning that, possibly, it's not going to be a healthy place to go in," Manning said. "So trust your eyes and trust your nose. I mean, if it smells bad, if it looks bad, it's likely bad."
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An Austin-based firm that’s established itself as one of the top Bitcoin miners in North America is set to go public.
On Thursday, the company, known as Core Scientific Inc., announced it’s now trading on Nasdaq as $CORZ. The stock opened at $9.74 per share then peaked at $10.48. The company was assigned a $414 million market cap.
"As one of the largest publicly-traded blockchain infrastructure providers and digital asset miners in North America, we are focused on growing our capacity, defending and securing the blockchain ecosystem and building long-term shareholder value," CEO Mike Levitt said.
As reported by Yahoo News, investors approved a plan for a public debut through a $4.3 billion merger with special purpose acquisition company Power & Digital Infrastructure Acquisition Corp. The deal arrives as Austin sees its crypto scene soar, with increased activity in the NFT economy and groups pooling their money together through DAOs.
Core Scientific was established in 2017 and relocated its headquarters from Seattle to Austin last year. It has a site in Downtown Austin on 106 E. 6th St. and data centers in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and North Dakota. More than 100 full-time employees are in the U.S., but it's unclear how many are in Austin.
Now, they say they are the biggest Bitcoin miners based on processing power, with claims that the combined mining capacity on the Bitcoin network exceeds that of competitors. And SEC filings from earlier this month show it's in the process of acquiring Blockcap, Inc., which moved to Austin last year.
The company describes itself as a leader in high-performance, carbon-neutral blockchain infrastructure in an industry that catches flak for its energy use.
Aside from mining, the company provides internet hosting services for other large-scale miners. In fact, it derives about half its revenue by helping big customers mine, a quality seen in what’s often referred to as an “institutional-grade” miner.
Looking ahead, Core Scientific seems optimistic about the year ahead even as Bitcoin falls from its all-time high.
“We’ve worked hard to lay the groundwork that will enable us to achieve our 2022 projections,” Levitt told Yahoo News. “Our objective is to be the best. Being the best means doing all that we can for our business, the industry in which we participate and for the Bitcoin network.”
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Watch some Cricket
When: 5:30-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: The Crossover, 1717 Scottsdale Drive
What: Looking for a new sport to obsess over? Attend one of Sports Movement’s indoor cricket matches.
Le Garage Sale
When: 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Rd.
What: Find over 100+ boutiques, brands and designers at Le Garage sale. Shop leisurewear, accessories, menswear, children’s apparel, home decor and more. Tickets start at $10.
See a movie at the drive-in
When: 6:25-8:45 p.m., 9:15-10:50 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Globe Drive-In Theater, 8017 Cele Rd.
What: This weekend you can see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban at 6:25 p.m. or you can see The Cabin in the Woods at 9:15 p.m. at the drive-in. Tickets cost $16 per car.
Museum of Ice Cream
When: 11:30 a.m Saturday and Sunday
Where: Museum of Ice Cream, 11410 Century Oaks Ter.
What: The Museum of Ice Cream is featuring 12 never-before-seen instillations celebrating the enjoyment of ice cream. View tickets here.
The Austin Flea
When: 12 p.m. Sunday
Where: Meanwhile Brewing, 3901 Promontory Point Dr.
What: Find handmade items, vintage wares, food and drink and more at The Austin Flea at Meanwhile Brewing. Vendors are handpicked for each show to guarantee a great selection of items to shop for.