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Water Today Title September 20, 2020

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Blue-green algae



This story is brought to you in part by Proteus Waters

On Friday, July 6 the Water Security Agency (WSA)along with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health issued an advisory for blue-green algae. The notice explained the conditions under which blooms or heavy concentrations will form, as well as their appearance. The public was advised, "to avoid swimming in or drinking water where blooms are occurring."

The advisory was very general and did not target a specific body of water, we contacted the WSA for precisions.

Patrick Boyle, Executive Director of Communications and Client Services for the Water Security Agency, explained that the advisory "was mainly to advise the public, but there have also been reports of algae blooms in some lakes across Saskatchewan."

Boyle said that "there has been callS into our regional offices, there have been a lot of photos that have been shared online too, and our people are out there on the water all the time and they have seen some."

"It's not uncommon for Saskatchewan to have [blue-green] algae blooms at this time of year," Boyle said, and recent warm weather and lack of wind have creating conditions that could allow for blooms.

Boyle explained that they "have really nutrient-rich soil in Saskatchewan, which is great for farming, but on some of the lakes when you get hot, dry conditions it contributes to algae growth."

Colleen Book, a Communications Consultant for Saskatchewan's Ministry of Health, said that "Illness, [in humans], that may be caused by exposure to blue-green algae are not reportable and statistics are not collected." She added, "our goal is to prevent residents from exposure to [a] harmful algal toxin through public awareness and a water quality monitoring program."

Exposure to blue-green "can cause red skin, sore throat, cramps or diarrhea," Book said, "caution should be taken when considering the consumption of fish or shellfish caught in areas of water where a bloom exists."

The late summer months are typically the driest for Saskatchewan. Boyle said that the advisory is a "blanket-advisory for the entire summer to the public to be on the lookout for blue-green algae."


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