While the province has not received any reports of blue-green algae in Saskatchewan, current weather conditions are ideal for blooms to form in lakes, reservoirs, sloughs and ponds.
With blooms possibly forming, the Ministries of Environment and Health, along with the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority are telling the public they should avoid swimming and drinking water where the algae is present. Pets and livestock can also be affected.
The algae is “nothing new to the province,” says Kelly Neuert, a senior water policy analyst with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment said. Still, she’s advising the public to call in any blooms they find.
“If the public notices, they can certainly contact ourselves, health or even the watershed authority,” says Neuert. “(Blue-green algae) occurs from year-to-year and some years are worse than others.”
However, Neuert explains the algae are unlike zebra mussels, an invasive species that can be transported from lake-to-lake on boats and other watercrafts.
“When algae is out of the water—say on a boat or something—it’s going to dry off,” he says.
Swimming in or drinking water containing algae can cause a red skin rash, sore throat, cramps or diarrhea. The public is also advised to be careful about consuming fish in affected waters and should not eat the internal organs.
Neuert said the blooms are blue-green in colour and may also have a foamy, sheen-like appearance noting heavy blooms can resemble pea soup.
Shallow waters, high daytime temperatures and slow moving or still water can increase algae growth, resulting in the quick formation of the blooms. They can last up to three weeks and can change locations as winds shift.