Even in fall, blue-green algae a concern

By Brent Frazier, mayor City of Pelican Rapids 

Although the first day of the autumn season of 2020 hasn’t technically arrived by looking at the calendar, we feel it in the air. As the first day of autumn is recognized on September 22, there are still many of us that recognize the autumn season begins after the last day of August. For some reason when September arrives, the air temperature changes and the clouds paint a much different portrait.

With the arrival of autumn, there are still many aspects of the summer past that linger on for many days. Several people still continue to enjoy their family cook-outs until late autumn, many flower varieties reach their peak beauty in the autumn and then unfortunately we continue to observe many of smaller bodies of water that are infested with the blue-green algae bloom.

In a region of so many smaller lakes, sloughs and ponds this is highly visible as we drive throughout the country side. Yes, the blue-green algae blooms that did begin in the spring season when the water temperatures rise and the daylight hours increase, take over our beautiful water ways for many months until the first killing frost of autumn. The rivers and creeks that have a steady movement of water usually do not have these same concerns of blue-green algae blooms. 

The major ingredients that contribute to nutrient enrichment in our waters are phosphorus and nitrogen. In turn, algae growth is encouraged to multiply by the erosion and nutrient runoff of agricultural land, wastewater treatment plant effluent with high phosphorus content & low dissolved oxygen and the fertilization of our lawns. 

So is algae a nuisance other than its’ non cosmetic beauty? Yes, it definitely is a concern and problem. 

 It has been determined that blue-green algae can be detrimental to the health of man and animal alike, and unfortunately there have been bodies of water that did not have the algae bloom that were still contaminated, which was realized by water testing. 

Reports have shown that blue-green algae can cause illness to humans and be fatal to livestock and pet animals. 

Humans that have swam or waded in these waters usually have symptoms of skin, eye, nose & throat irritation, stomach pain, headache, muscle twitches, vomiting and diarrhea. 

Livestock and pets that drink water with algae can die within 30 minutes due to neurological and liver damage, and at this time no antidote is known for such a cure for this fatal situation.

Waterfowl hunters that use a companion dog for the retrieving of ducks and geese need be extra precautions in the autumn season. 

As we now wind down our days of being in the lakes and ponds, please observe the water. If it looks like pea soup and has a nasty odor, stay out and away from it.

If you, your livestock or pets have made contact and/or consumption, please call your health department, veterinarian or state poison center at 1.800.222.1222.

Therefore when in doubt of the quality of the water, stay out!