Minnehaha Creek Watershed District provides tips on identifying dangerous blue-green algae

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) has warned residents of Hennepin and Carver counties to be wary of harmful blue-green algae blooms in lakes, ponds and slow-moving streams.

“We are being proactive in telling people, ‘Stay out of the water when you see [blue-green algae] blooms,’ because the blooms could be potentially toxic,” said Kelly Dooley, the lakes water quality manager at MCWD.

The district has been receiving a high volume of calls concerning the blue-green algae, and realized contamination is more severe this summer than in recent years, Dooley explained.

It is likely that the increase in blue-green algae is due to high water experienced by the district last summer. The water left behind nutrients and these, paired with the recent warm weather, likely contributed to the rapid increase of blooms.

“With the onset of warmer water temperatures and rain in late June we’re seeing the blue-greens take advantage of these extra nutrients,” Dooley said.

Blue-green algae, which is in fact a type of bacteria, produces toxins that can be fatal to pets and cause diarrhea, skin and eye irritation, vomiting and difficulty of breath in humans.

MCWD said in a statement blooms look like “pea soup or green paint,” and though not all are toxic, it advises people to stay away from waters containing blue-green algae as laboratory testing is required to tell which blooms are toxic and which are not.

For more information, see here for a list of resourced on blue green algae compiled by MCWD.