Large algae bloom discovered in Shuswap Lake not harmful: Interior Health - InfoNews

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Large algae bloom discovered in Shuswap Lake not harmful: Interior Health

Shuswap Lake
Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons
August 11, 2020 - 3:19 PM

Environmental testing at Shuswap Lake indicates a large algae bloom which recently appeared near Salmon Arm is largely non-harmful and the risk to the public remains low.

According to an Interior Health Authority media release, the large algal bloom discovered July 22 has filled much of the Salmon Arm of Shuswap Lake.

"On-site environmental testing indicates this bloom is primarily non-harmful green algae with very low numbers of cyanobacteria or blue-green algae and the risk to the public remains low," reads the release.

Interior Health said the algae blooms occur in many lakes, ponds, and wetlands throughout the Interior during the summer months. Blooms of blue-green algae, also called cyanobacteria can quickly grow into large masses called cyanoblooms. These blue-green algae can produce a toxin, which may be harmful if it is swallowed or if it comes in contact with skin. They also make the water look like pea soup or paint.

The algae found in the Shuswap Lake is non-harmful green algae with very low numbers of blue-green algae.

"Although the water is visually not appealing, it remains safe for all recreational activities, as well as for public drinking water system, which uses the lake as its primary drinking water supply," reads the release.

Interior Health is reminding the public not to drink or cook using untreated water directly from lakes, ponds or wetlands due to the risk of waterborne illness. Boiling the water does not remove the blue-green algae from the water. The public and their pets are also reminded never to wade or swim in water with visible cyanoblooms.

Interior Health, the Ministry of the Environment and the First Nations Health Authority are working with the City of Salmon Arm, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, and Fraser Basin Council to watch the algal bloom and will continue to monitor public drinking water supplies and recreational beaches.


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