Warm Minnesota weather brings out algae

  • Associated Press
  • August 16, 2014 - 3:15 PM

RICE, Minn. — The recent stretch of warm, calm weather has brought good conditions for blue-green algae in Minnesota lakes, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

This year's heavy rains in May and June washed a large amount of nutrients into lakes and streams. Those nutrients, including phosphorus, help feed the algae growth, according to the St. Cloud Times ( ).

"We're getting into the kind of weather that really allows for the blue-green blooms to take off," said Steve Heiskary, lake expert with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Blue-green algae blooms are thick and cloudy, and can look like green paint or floating mats of scum. Some contain toxins that can be deadly to dogs and other animals. In humans, they can cause nausea and irritation of the skin, eye, nose and throat.

"A lot of the lakes are turning green this year where they didn't last year," said Gerry Maciej, Benton Soil and Water Conservation District manager.

In June, a dog's death after swimming in Prairie Lake near Clear Lake prompted warnings about blue-green algae.

Little Rock Lake near Rice, where some blue-green algae growth occurs every year, was the source of calls and complaints in recent weeks about odor.

This year, the MPCA has received calls and comments about the algae on lakes that have not typically experienced blooms, Heiskary said.

"Hopefully, it's just a one-year kind of year," he said.

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