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Warm days, low water ideal circumstances for algae blooms

blue green algaeWarm days and low water levels more typical of late summer have created ideal circumstances for algae blooms in local lakes.

“Residents may be noticing current lake levels are lower than normal for this time of year and algae growth is higher,” said Christine McClure, Quinte Conservation’s Water Resources Manager. “The conditions we are seeing now are more typical of late summer and combined with recent high temperatures have created ideal circumstances for algae blooms in many local lakes. It is likely these conditions will persist until we receive enough rain to flush out our water systems.”

She noted that in most cases, the algae bloom is made up of harmless green algae.

“Green algae can be found free floating in the lake or attached to rocks or structures such as docks. They are usually a grass green in colour. Green algae are commonly found in most lakes and rivers in Eastern Ontario and are part of a healthy ecosystem. However, when present in abundance they can be a nuisance, produce unpleasant odors, impede recreational activities and clog water intake pipes.”

She explains that if the algae in a lake appears to be blue or blue-green in colour and looks like a paint spill on the lake there is the possibility of a blue-green algae bloom.

“Blue-green algae are primitive microscopic plants that live in fresh water. Their scientific name is cyanobacteria and they can pose health risks. Normally blue-green algae are barely visible, but, during warm weather, populations can rapidly increase to form a large mass called a bloom.”

If you suspect a blue-green algae bloom, assume toxins are present and call the Ministry of the Environment Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060. The health risks of exposure to blue-green algae include itchy, irritated eyes and skin or headaches, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Residents who are concerned about the health risks of blue-green algae should contact their local health unit.

More information about Quinte Conservation is available at www.quinteconservation.ca.

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