Hot weather prompted the DNR to warn lake goers about the potential dangers of blue-green algae.
While it is not uncommon to see algae blooms in the lake area in late summer, recent hot weather has prompted a warning. Blue-green algae tends to show up in small, shallow, mucky ponds. It looks exactly like its name; “blue-green” scum that resembles pea soup or spilled paint on the water surface. It also has a strong, unpleasant, swampy odor. It can erupt suddenly and be deadly.
Ninety-nine percent of green algae are harmless; a nuisance and ugly, but harmless and not ALL blue-green algae is harmful.
Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can be fatal to fish, cattle and pets that drink the water. Several dogs have died from swimming in ponds with blue-green algae. It can also cause a rash and respiratory problems in people. People are advised to stay away if the water is questionable. If you or your pet come in contact with blue-green algae, wash thoroughly as soon as possible and keep your pets from licking the algae off their fur. Botulism outbreaks are almost always associated with blue-green algae. Waterfowl and shorebirds can die within hours of exposure and the death is rapid for pets and livestock.
Common symptoms in humans include sore throats, coughs, congestion, itchy skin and abdominal pain. Health effects occur when high levels of blue-green algae toxins are swallowed, through contact with skin or when airborne droplets are inhaled while swimming, boating and skiing.
Algae blooms occur when the conditions for algae growth are optimal. These conditions include:
-Lots of sun.
Algae consume nutrients in the water, so much that the amount of algae can double in a days’ time.
Scientists do not yet know what causes some blooms to produce toxins while others do not. It is also hard to distinguish from other types of algae. Because little is known about what causes blue-green algae to become toxic, precaution remains the best defense. Natures warning signs say “When in doubt, stay out”.
• Do not let people, pets or livestock drink untreated lake water.
• Avoid swimming, wading or other activities with full body contact of lake water.
• Clean fish well, rinse with clean water, consume only the fillet portion.
• Do not let pets or livestock eat dried algae.
Reducing the amount of nutrients that enter the lake is one way property owners can help reduce algae blooms. Phosphorus is a big concern; a single pound of phosphorus can lead to 500 lbs. of algae.
Tips to reduce phosphorus levels and algae bloom are:
• Prevent all grass clippings, leaves, soil and wastewater containing nutrients from reaching the pond.
• Use a low phosphorus lawn fertilizer.
• Leave an unmowed area between your lawn and the lake to filter unwanted nutrients from reaching the lake.
• Dispose of all leaves, grass clippings and yard debris well away from the lake.
• Maintain septic system properly. Apply bacterial waste digester (Aquagest).
• Use a berm to redirect storm water away from the lake or through heavy vegetation to filter unwanted nutrients.
• Apply beneficial bacteria (AquaClear Pellets) to reduce nutrient level in the pond.
• Lower pond productivity by applying a pond clarifier (Clear-Pond).
• Remove algae by using an algaecide (Cutrine-Plus).
By staying actively aware of your pond conditions and being proactive with preventative measures, you and your animals can enjoy your pond for the rest of the summer healthy and safe.