Blue-green algae shows up in lakes in the M.D.

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Blue-green algae blooms have started showing up in Alberta lakes. It is not a surprise, given the run of hot weather, and advisories are being issued by the authorities.

Steele Lake and Lawrence Lake in the M.D. of Lesser Slave River are two examples.

Unofficial reports say something that might be algae blooms have been spotted in Lesser Slave Lake. But no warnings have yet been issued (or hadn’t at the time of this writing.)

Such occurrences are common enough. Two or three years ago all swimming in Lesser Slave Lake was banned due to an algae bloom. It can get even worse: in the early 2000s the Town of Slave Lake drinking water was compromised to the point it couldn’t be used.

If blue-green algae is suspected, avoid contact with it, says Alberta Health Services. Don’t swim or wade and if contact is made, wash it off with tap water. Keep your pets out of the water as well.

Do not feed fish or fish parts to your pets if they are caught in a lake with blue-green algae. As for human consumption of fish, the fillets are okay, but not the ‘trimmings.’

Skin irritation, sore throat red eyes, swollen lips, fever, nausea and vomiting are all considered signs of contact with blue-green algae. Symptoms are often more pronounced in children.

The bloom appears on the water as a scum, or blobs; its colour can range from green to greenish-blue to pink to brown and it can smelly musty or ‘grassy.’

The AHS advisory adds that areas of Sturgeon Lake (or other lakes) where the algae bloom does not appear can still be used.

Last week advisories were also issued for Baptiste Lake, in Athabasca County. Other lakes hit by the bloom include Long Lake in Thorhild County, Moose Lake, Pigeon Lake and Wabamun Lake.

If you see what you think may be blue-green algae, AHS asks that you call Health Link at 811.

A couple of examples of blue-green algae blooms in Lesser Slave Lake from past years. If you see anything like this, let the authorities know about it.

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