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Posted on July 30, 2018 at 8:06 PM by Ryan Hiniker
Drainage update 7/30/2018
Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:
Scum Days of Summer:
(Picture I took over the weekend at Lake Washington)
For those of us that have grown up in southern Minnesota, the dog days of summer or late summer means weeds and gross looking lakes most years. Sometimes those gross looking and often smelly lakes are actually toxic.
Many have heard the term Blue-green Algae. These algae as it’s often called, is actually a bacterium called Cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria is nothing new to our lakes and ecosystems. The bacteria thrive in water areas that are often warm, nutrient rich and shallow. That pretty much could describe any lake in southern Minnesota.
Blue-green algae blooms will often look like thick green pea soup and often have a very pungent odor of musty or decaying vegetation. Can you tell just by sight or smell if algae are toxic? No, not for certain, but a simple water sample test can be conducted to test for toxicity. When the blooms start producing toxins, there is real danger for humans and animals. The toxin that is produced is called cyanotoxins. Most algae in general are not harmful, but when they become toxic it is a different story.
Most of these blooms of algae concentrate in the calmer bays of lakes, but not always. Many of the severe cases of Blue-green algae blooms are because of a combination of shallow warm waters with overloading of nutrient sources like Phosphorus and Nitrogen. Many times, the nutrient overloading comes from leaking septic systems, household cleaning agents, and commercial and residential fertilizers that have been allowed to run off into a water source.
Humans and animals can become ill from exposure to the algae, and in some rare cases it results in death to some animals. Humans that have been exposed to the Blue-green algae could experience many symptoms like; headache, eye irritation, skin rashes, cough, sore throat, and stomach and intestinal issues. Animals can have similar reactions to the exposure also, and dogs are the most susceptible. The article I read pointed out dogs as being the most at risk because of their nature to swim and play in all types of water. The very nature of how dogs swim also leads them to ingest larger amounts of water.
Can we get rid of Blue-green algae in our lakes? The answer is no, the algae will always live in the lake water. We can’t control the algae living in the lake or the temperatures of the lake, but we can try to reduce the amounts of nutrients that are going into the lakes and streams. By being more conscious of the fertilizer run off and what household chemicals we dump down our drains, we all can play a key role in reducing the intensity of these algae blooms. For those people who live on or near the water, consider planting buffer areas along the water's edge or in areas that may experience runoff.
Check out what other area groups have done to clean up their lake problems. One major group in our area is Crystal Waters Project from the Lake Crystal area. They have been dealing with Blue-green algae blooms and have taken a community-based approach to cleaning up the issues. For more reading on this article and another one that I read, click the hyperlinks. The pictures are from Lake Washington from over the weekend.
Recent Drainage Inspections – week of July 23 – July 27:
We require that all repairs to a county drainage system (tile or open ditch) be authorized by one us in the drainage office, either Craig or myself, before any repairs are made.
Drainage Management Specialist