Water warning: Blue green algae threat high in area lakes

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – In the thick of the summer heat you may be looking for anywhere to cool off.

But some local lakes could be dangerous to swim in.

The culprit is blue green algae.

It’s a common bacteria in lakes but when you throw in hot temperatures, too little rain and run off from neighboring lawns and farms, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says you have a recipe for trouble.

“Conditions are getting very right for blue green algae to form in our lakes,” said DNR Lake Management Planner Buzz Sorge.

Sorge said the algae gives off three main types of toxins.

“The most concerning being the neurotoxins. They produce a toxin that can produce neurological impairment or death,” Sorge said.

He said the other toxins can affect liver function and could even give you a rash.

It can also harm animals.

“The pets are much more likely to ingest water and experience the toxicity,” Sorge said.

Sorge said Lake Menomin and Tainter Lake in Dunn County are hot beds for the dangerous bacteria.

From 2009 to 2011, Dunn County had the most algae-related illnesses in Wisconsin with 26 reports.

The DNR said if the weather continues to heat up there could be an explosion of the nasty bacteria in Lake Altoona.

That’s something swimmers at Lake Altoona Beach on Monday afternoon were not pleased to hear.

“I see a lot of kids here but I don't want to be in green water,” said Devin Hemingway.

“I didn't realize it was going to be this bad. The kids are going in but we'll have them get showered up after,” said Kaylen Anderson.

The Eau Claire City-County Health Department said it’s monitoring blue green algae in Lake Altoona and as of Monday afternoon the lake is still safe for swimming.

“Just use good judgment and if it looks bad please stay out of the water,” Sorge said.

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  • by Hiker Location: Eau Claire on Jul 25, 2012 at 09:30 PM
    There is nothing wrong with the water. Listen to the report. "Could be potentially dangerous" This water is tested weekly and is never close to the blue green algae you are told to look for. Swim in it. Don't drink it. Be smart about it. WEAU did a good job scaring everyone.
  • by God on Jul 23, 2012 at 08:56 PM
    Can we blame Walker for this problem also? hahahahah
    • reply
      by Chris on Jul 24, 2012 at 04:21 AM in reply to God
      Really dude. Do you really think you are helping anything? Keep your ridiculous comments to yourself. There are serious issues here and adults who want to discuss them.
      • reply
        by fourth grader on Jul 24, 2012 at 07:48 AM in reply to Chris
        kids can write too
      • reply
        by God on Jul 24, 2012 at 09:29 AM in reply to Chris
        Adults? hahah that's why you guys always sit on here and argue like a bunch of little kids.
    • reply
      by Mike L on Jul 24, 2012 at 09:13 AM in reply to God
      We might as well. He has been blamed for everything else that happens. Seriously, don't mistake floating vegetation for blue/green algae. The bad algae honestly looks like house paint floating on the surface and colors the rocks and docks when a wave splashes up. I live on Tainter. In reality, I see it only three or four days a year, yet people make it sound like a 12 month problem. With the hot weather, I expected it much worse than it is this year. We really don't mind if you stay away, it makes for more fish and less traffic for the rest of us.
      • reply
        by krm on Jul 24, 2012 at 06:30 PM in reply to Mike L
        mike really 3-4 days a year. BS, look at the lake it looks like pea soup right now and has been that way for weeks.
        • reply
          by Mike L on Jul 25, 2012 at 11:56 AM in reply to krm
          You are looking at one spot. Look at the whole lake. My house is maybe 40 feet above the water, but standing on my deck today I can see fish swimming around my dock. Last night we ran the pontoon all the way from the red cedar to the dam and back and only saw a small patch of blue/green algae near the Hay River bridge and a little by the bridge at Jake's. As I said, don't confuse vegetation with blue/green algae. Look on the bright side. It doesn't glow in the dark, like the algae slime that floats on Lake Pepin.
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