Lake slimed, weekend swimmers beached

Visitors to Victoria Beach head elsewhere


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THICK, green algae covering the shores of Victoria Beach on the long weekend had some residents departing for less green waters.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/08/2010 (4682 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

THICK, green algae covering the shores of Victoria Beach on the long weekend had some residents departing for less green waters.

Joyce Powers, manager of the Moonlight Inn at Victoria Beach, said beach-goers have been heading to nearby Albert and Wanasing beaches, where the water is more inviting.

“People are going to other beaches to swim,” Powers said. “I think this is just a cleansing thing for the lake. I’ve seen algae here before, so I think people are just waiting it out.”

A combination of warmth and unusually clear water this summer has allowed algae to grow more easily, scientist Al Kristofferson said last week. The clear water could be caused by calm days that allow sediment to settle out and a plume of clear water pouring in from the Winnipeg River.

Although he doesn’t like to see algae on the lake, Kristofferson said it serves to remind people the lake still has problems with excess nutrients from farm runoff and municipal sewage.

One Victoria Beach resident, who has had a cottage there for more than two decades, said the algae was especially bad the past few days, but she isn’t too worried.

“I’ve seen algae here before. I’ve just been heading up to nearby Traverse Bay to swim,” she said.

In 2007, the federal government committed $18 million to clean up Lake Winnipeg.

Some of the money is intended to monitor sites around the lake to assess where excess nutrients come from and how they can be better managed.

The Manitoba Water Stewardship website warns swimmers to keep their dogs away from algae-clogged water and to avoid swimming in the scum.

The green monster

— Algae blooms can appear in Manitoba lakes during July and occur periodically until mid-September.

— Warm and calm weather coupled with relatively high nutrient loads provide ideal conditions for blue-green algae to develop.

— Too much algae will form floating clumps or scums and can cause water-quality problems for drinking and recreation.

— Algae blooms can produce toxins that can be harmful to the liver or nervous system if large amounts of water are swallowed. Drinking water containing algae can also cause an upset stomach and diarrhea, and external exposure to algae blooms has been reported to cause skin irritation.

If large amounts of green scum are visible in the water, it is advisable to:

— Avoid swimming or other contact with the water.

— Do not drink the water — boiling or chlorination will not make the water safe.

— Prevent pets and livestock from drinking along the shoreline.

— Do not to eat fish that appear unhealthy.

— The number of blue-green algae cells was above the recreational water quality guideline at south Pelican Lake (Pleasant Valley) on July 23 and at north Pelican Lake (Ninette) on July 26, but the concentration of an algae toxin, microcystin-LR, was considered safe.

— Source: Manitoba Water Stewardship

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