Alberta Health Services issued a blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) bloom advisory Friday afternoon for Hawrelak Park Lake, after the bacteria was detected in the Edmonton lake.
Those who visit Hawrelak Park are advised to avoid contact with blue-green algae blooms and wash with tap water as soon possible if they come in contact with it.
People are also asked to stay out of the lake where the algae can be seen. AHS noted that areas of the lake in which the algae bloom is not visible can still be used for recreational purposes, even while the advisory is in place.
“It wasn’t a big surprise to us, since it had happened last year,” Rob Smyth, deputy city manager of the Citizen Services Department said.
Smyth said the city will begin chlorinating the water on Monday. The process may last two days if necessary. The water will also be tested on those days.
The same process was used to rid the lake of the algae in 2015, just days before the ITU World Triathlon.
“That did work, so that’s what we’ll do again this year,” Smyth said. “This year we have about three weeks before race day so we’re in a good position. I think everyone on our water team is very optimistic that this is going to work.”
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AHS also reminded people to never drink or cook with untreated water directly from any lake, including Hawrelak Park Lake, at any time. While the advisory is active, pets should not drink from the lake either.
The health authority said boiling lake water will not remove the toxins produced by blue-green algae.
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Blue-green algae is naturally occurring and often become visible when weather conditions are calm. Appearing like scum, grass clippings, fuzz or globs on the surface of water, the bacteria can be blue-green, greenish-brown, brown, and/or pinkish-red and often smells musty or grassy.
People who come in contact with visible blue-green algae may experience skin irritation, rash, sore throat, sore red eyes, swollen lips, fever, nausea and vomiting and/or diarrhea. AHS said symptoms usually appear within one to three hours and resolve in one to two days.
The advisory will remain in effect for Hawrelak Park Lake until further notice.
For more information, visit the Alberta Health Services website.