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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