Salmon Arm  

Algae bloom grows to fill most of Salmon Arm of Shuswap Lake

Algae filling Shuswap Lake

Authorities are monitoring an algae bloom that has filled most of the Salmon Arm of Shuswap Lake.

Interior Health is working with the Ministry of the Environment, First Nations Health Authority, City of Salmon Arm, Columbia Shuswap Regional District, and Fraser Basin Council to monitor the situation.

This bloom was first detected on July 22.

IH says on-site environmental testing indicates the bloom is primarily non-harmful green algae with very low numbers of the more dangerous cyanobacteria or blue-green algae.

The risk to the public remains low. 

IH says algal blooms are known to occur in many lakes, ponds, and wetlands throughout the B.C. Interior this time of year.

During warm summer months, it is common for some blooms to be blue-green algae or cyanobacteria, which can quickly grow into large masses called cyanoblooms. Blue-green algae can produce a toxin, which may be harmful if it is swallowed or if it comes in contact with skin.

Cyanoblooms can cover the surface or make normally clear water look like thick pea soup or paint.

Although the water is visually unappealing, it remains safe for recreational activities, as well as for public drinking water systems, IH notes.  

Visitors and residents are reminded not to drink or cook using untreated water directly from lakes, ponds or wetlands due to the risk of waterborne illness. Boiling water will not remove the blue-green algae from the water – and never wade or swim in water with visible cyanoblooms.

Pets should also be kept out of waterbodies where there are active algae blooms as they can be sensitive to the toxins.

Interior Health says public drinking water supplies and recreational beaches will continue to be monitored.

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