UPDATE: Algae bloom, raw sewage in northern arm of Okanagan Lake | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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UPDATE: Algae bloom, raw sewage in northern arm of Okanagan Lake

An image of the sewage in the lake today, June 25, 2017, was included with the statement.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Okanagan Indian Band
June 26, 2017 - 6:31 AM

VERNON – Those looking to escape the heat into the North Arm of Okanagan Lake will want to change their plans.

The Okanagan Indian Band says a previous report of raw sewage has been assessed and results showed a combination of sewage output, grass, leaves, burlap, sand, dead animals, and with the added heat, an algae bloom.

Higher than normal temperatures, changing water levels, and an increase in nutrients entering the water can increase the presence of blue-green algae blooms, the band says.

“At this time there is no odour, and as the algae bloom becomes oxygenated a distinct sulphur odour will be a natural release,” the band says in an information release.

People are advised not to go into or have any contact with the water, and the same goes for pets and livestock. While 30 to 50 per cent of cyanobacteria is not harmful, several species can produce toxins, the band says. Someone who has contact with toxic algaen may develop a skin irritation in their eyes, ears, nose and throat. Consuming toxic algae, either by eating a contaminated fish or accidentally swallowing water, can cause headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, fever and abdominal pain. Serious cases can be fatal, the band says.

Cyanobacteria and toxic algae can also have devastating effects on aquatic ecosystems.

The Ministry of Environment was informed of the presence of raw sewage in the lake, according to an earlier information release.

Raw sewage can contain a variety of things that can cause illness, from E. Coli to Cholera, and is likely to cause infection in open wounds. The raw sewage may contain feces, urine, blood and cleaning chemicals, according to the release.

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