Algae blooms reported in Sioux Lookout lakes
Tim Brody - Editor
The Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) is advising that it has received a report of an algae bloom in Pelican Lake, Abram Lake, and Minnitaki Lake near Sioux Lookout.
The blooms are being tested by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) to see if they are blue-green algae. NWHU says at this time, the results are not known, and is advising people to treat it is though it is blue-green algae.
MECP shared in a July 18 email that it received a report of a suspected blue green algae bloom on Pelican Lake in Sioux Lookout, on July 14. The suspected bloom was observed around Fry Pan Island and was reported to the ministry’s Spills Action Centre.
MECP shared on July 18, “Environmental officers went to the area today to collect water samples. The samples will be sent to the ministry lab for analysis and results will be provided to the health unit.”
NWHU explained in a July 15 media released, “Blue-green algae are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams. They are usually present in low numbers but can rapidly increase in certain conditions to form a large mass or scum, called a bloom. Some blue-green algae produce toxins that can pose a health risk to people and animals when they are exposed to them in large amounts.”
NWHU further advised, “When blue-green algae blooms are present, it is important to avoid drinking the water, swimming in it, and using it for bathing or other household purposes. Residential water treatment systems may not remove toxins and should not be relied on during a bloom event. Do not boil the water, as this can cause an increase in toxin levels. Municipally treated water supplies can be used normally unless you are notified otherwise.
“People and pets should avoid contact with water that has been recently impacted by a blue green algae bloom, is discoloured or has scum on the surface. If contact does occur, wash with soap and water or rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove algae.”
Municipal Clerk Brian P. MacKinnon stated, “There are no concerns about the safety of Municipal drinking water, however, we are doing additional testing as a precautionary measure.”
Asked if the report of the algae bloom might have any impact on local beaches, MacKinnon added that the Municipality of Sioux Lookout is, “awaiting feedback from MECP and the Northwestern Health Unit regarding the status of beaches.”
NWHU said it is recommended to wait at least two weeks after the bloom has disappeared before resuming the normal use of lake waters.
Anyone who spots an algae bloom can report it to the Spills Action Centre at 1-866-MOETIPS (6638477).
For more information on blue-green algae blooms, follow the links below:
• Information about Blue-Green Algae – Ministry of Environment
Anyone with questions is asked to contact the Northwestern Health Unit at 1-800-830-5978 to speak with a public health inspector.