Updated-Local Lake Algae Blooms

Blue-Green Algae spotted on Mississippi and Dalhousie Lakes

CARLETON PLACE, October 7, 2014 – Recent warm summer weather and low wind conditions combined to create unusual algae blooms on Dalhousie and Mississippi Lakes this September. The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) has tested the water and visually confirmed a blue-green algae growth in both lakes, lab results are still pending (as of 10/7).

Waterfront owners and recreational users are advised not to swim in or use the lake water for drinking or bathing until the water has cleared. Residents are encouraged to educate themselves about blue-green algae. Read these facts from the MOECC and the Lanark Leeds and Grenville Health Unit.

Many different species of algae (plant-like organisms) naturally inhabit our waterways. An over abundance of sunshine, warmth, and nutrients all of which promote algae growth can result in a bloom. When individual algae within the bloom start to die off, the release of chemicals from within their cells can cause toxic conditions in the water. The most harmful come from blue-green algae.

Reports from both lakes indicate that the blooms are dissipating causing murky conditions both in the lake and downstream. However, once the bloom has passed, the toxic results from its decomposition may remain in the water.

Ontario.ca provides the following advice on identifying and reacting to blue-green algae:

  • Blooms most commonly occur in late summer and early fall. They thrive in areas where the water is shallow, slow moving and warm, but they may be present in deeper, cooler water.
  • Dense blue-green algae blooms may make the water look bluish-green like green pea soup or turquoise paint. Very dense blooms may form solid-looking clumps.
  • If you spot it take a cautious approach, as some varieties of this algae can produce toxins that are harmful to both humans and animals.
    1. Avoid using, drinking, bathing or swimming in the water (call your local health unit for swimming advisories).
    2. Restrict pet and livestock access to the water.
    3. Home treatment systems may not remove toxins and can get easily overwhelmed or clogged, so they should not be relied on. Do not boil the water, or manually treat the water with chlorine or other disinfectants, as this could increase the toxin levels.

Who do I tell about a potential bloom?
If you spot a potential algae bloom, contact the MOECC Spill Action Hotline 1-800-268-6060. The MOECC will then test the water and share the results with the local health unit. The Health Unit will then issue drinking and/or swimming advisories to the affected landowners if necessary.

What does MVCA do with the information?
Reporting to MVCA helps keep staff informed of lake conditions. MVCA has an extensive lake monitoring program. Tracking the extent, duration and recurrences of bloom events helps identify areas for promoting good shoreline nutrient management practices. You can report potential blooms directly to staff or register on-line at citizenwaterwatch.ca a central database foalgal blooms or excessive aquatic plant growth observations in lakes and rivers of Eastern Ontario.

For more information about blue-green algae and the monitoring of Mississippi Valley watershed lakes, contact:

Kelly Stiles, Aquatic Biologist
613.253.0006 ex. 234

Photo: Blue green algae bloom spotted on Mississippi Lake.

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