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Blue-green algae bloom at Garner Lake

Alberta Health Services released a health advisory for Garner Lake on June 27.
Algae file

GARNER LAKE - A blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) bloom has been identified in areas of Garner Lake, located about 50 km northwest of St. Paul, or 56 km east of Smoky Lake.

Residents living near the shores of Garner Lake, as well as visitors to this lake, are advised to take precautions to avoid coming in contact with blue-green algae.

The Alberta Health Services (AHS) advisory was released on June 27.

Precautions include avoiding all contact with blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms and washing with tap water as soon as possible, if contact does happen. Humans and pets should avoid swimming or wading in areas where there is visible blue-green algae.

It is also recommended that people do not feed whole fish or fish trimmings to pets from lakes where there is blue-green algae.

"Consider limiting human consumption of whole fish and fish trimmings from this lake, as it is known that fish may store toxins in their liver," according to AHS. People can safely consume fish fillets from lakes where there is blue-green algae.

Visitors and residents are reminded to never drink or cook with untreated water directly from any recreational body of water, including Garner Lake. Boiling the water will not remove the toxins produced by blue-green algae, according to AHS.

"Blue-green algae is naturally occurring, and often becomes visible when weather conditions are calm," reads the health advisory. Blue-green algae appears like "scum, grass clippings, fuzz or globs on the surface of water," and it can be blue-green, greenish-brown, brown, and/or pinkish-red, and often smells musty or grassy.  

Symptoms related to coming in contact with blue-green algae in humans include "skin irritation, rash, sore throat, sore red eyes, swollen lips, fever, nausea and vomiting and/or diarrhea. Symptoms usually appear within one to three hours and resolve in one to two days."

Areas of Garner Lake where the algae bloom is not visible can still be used for recreational purposes.  

Janice Huser

About the Author: Janice Huser

Janice Huser has been with the St. Paul Journal since 2006. She is a graduate of the SAIT print media journalism program, is originally from St. Paul and has a passion for photography.
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