A large algal bloom in a B.C. Southern Interior lake is being monitored by health officials, who said on Tuesday the public health risk is low.
According to Interior Health, the algal bloom was first detected on July 22nd, and has filled most of the Salmon Arm end of Shuswap Lake.
“At this time, on-site environmental testing indicates this bloom is primarily non-harmful green algae with very low numbers of cyanobacteria or blue-green algae and the risk to the public remains low,” said Interior Health.
“At this time of year, algal blooms are known to occur in many of the lakes, ponds, and wetlands found throughout the Interior region of B.C.”
Interior Health said it, the Ministry of the Environment, the First Nations Health Authority, the City of Salmon Arm, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District and the Fraser Basin Council are monitoring the bloom.
The health authority said during warm summer months, it’s common for some blooms to be blue-green algae or cyanobacteria, and that they can quickly grow into large masses called cyanoblooms.
It also said blue-green algae can produce a toxin, which may be harmful if swallowed or if it comes in contact with skin, while adding that cyanoblooms are also usually blue-green in colour and can cover the surface or make normally clear water look like thick pea soup or paint.
“Although the water is visually not appealing, it remains safe for all recreational activities, as well as for public drinking water system, which uses the lake as its primary drinking water supply,” said Interior Health.
However, it said people should not drink or cook using untreated water directly from lakes, ponds or wetlands due to the risk of waterborne illness, noting boiling water will not remove the blue-green algae from the water.
It also said people and pets should never wade or swim in water with visible cyanoblooms.
For more information on blue-green algae, click here.