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Water quality advisories in place for several central, northern Alberta lakes

A file photo of a blue-green algae bloom.
A file photo of a blue-green algae bloom. Global News File

With parts of central and northern Alberta seeing sunny summer weather again, many people will be looking for a body of water to jump in and cool off. However, swimmers should take note that Alberta Health Services has multiple water quality advisories in effect in that part of the province.

Here’s a look at the advisories that were in place as of Monday afternoon:

Blue-green algae bloom advisories

  • Lac Ste. Anne
  • Buck Lake
  • Islet Lake
  • Bear Lake
  • Wadlin Lake
  • Lac La Biche Lake

The health authority is advising people to avoid any and all contact with the algae blooms in bodies of water where an advisory has been issued and to wash with tap water immediately if contact is made.

People are also asked not to swim or wade in the water where algae is present and also not to allow their pets to go into the water where algae can be seen.

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“Blue-green algae is naturally occurring and often becomes visible when weather conditions are calm,” AHS said. “Appearing like scum, grass clippings, fuzz or globs on the surface of water, blue-green algae 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 or who ingest water containing blue-green algae may experience 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. Symptoms in children are often more pronounced, however, all humans are at risk of these symptoms.”

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Water quality advisories triggered by fecal bacteria

  • Kacikewin Campground Beach area of Lac Ste. Anne
  • Sunset Point Camp Beach area of Lac Ste. Anne
  • Kinosoo Beach area of Cold Lake
  • Golden Sands area of Lac La Biche Lake
  • McArthur Beach area of Lac La Biche Lake
  • McGrane Beach area of Lac La Biche Lake

The above water quality advisories were put into effect because of what AHS said are “elevated levels of fecal bacteria currently present in the water.”

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AHS asked people not to swim or wade at these locations and said in some cases, “at current levels, [a] gastrointestinal illness may result from ingestion of the water.”

“As well, there is the possibility of skin, ear and eye infections with water contact.”

Additional health advice about lakes and reservoirs

AHS also advised people against drinking or cooking with “untreated water directly from any lake or reservoir, at any time.”

“Water-borne organisms, including fecal bacteria, can cause vomiting and diarrhea,” the health authority said.