Rising temperatures can cause patches of harmful blue-green algae to appear in our province's lakes and reservoirs. To ensure your safety, and that of pets and livestock, WSA and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health are advising the public to avoid direct contact, and consumption of any surface water where blue-green algae blooms are occurring. Pet owners and livestock producers are also advised to keep their animals away from suspected blooms.
Potentially harmful algae blooms are heavy concentrations of blue-green algae that often give the water a shimmering, foamy and pea soup like appearance. The blooms may be blue-green, bright blue, grey or tan in colour. Warm temperatures can result in the quick formation of algal blooms.
Algal blooms commonly occur during calm, hot weather in areas of lakes and reservoirs with shallow, slow moving or still water that has sufficient nutrients. The blooms can last up to three weeks and can be pushed around the lake or reservoir by the wind.
Many of Saskatchewan's southern lakes are prone to blue-green algae due to the high levels of naturally occurring nutrients they contain. These high nutrient level conditions positively affect a lake's fishery by producing abundant food sources, but they also can lead to blooms of algae with higher temperatures.
Direct contact or unintended consumption of algae-contaminated water can cause red skin, sore throat, cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If you have any concerns, consult with your health care provider. WSA recommends not eating shellfish or organ meats from fish caught in lakes with active blooms.
If you have health-related questions about blue-green algae, please contact your local Saskatchewan Health Authority environmental health office. and read on about the Healthy Beaches Program!
Healthy Beaches Program
The Healthy Beach Program helps ensure safe water quality for users of public beaches. Water sampling is typically conducted between June and September, and the information gathered is available to assist the public in making informed decisions when selecting a public swimming area.
Lakes are untreated bodies of water and carry some risk due to pollutants and other environmental factors. Public Health Inspectors respond to water quality issues, including blue green algae (algal blooms) and elevated bacteria levels, to ensure risks are addressed as quickly as possible.
For more information about the program, including sampling criteria, please read the Healthy Beach Program FAQ.