Posted by: Vicki Burns | July 13, 2012

Blue-green Algae Blooms Get an Early start in Manitoba

This weekend brought the first significant alert for blue-green algae blooms at 3 different locations in Manitoba. So our province is now joining the multitude of other locations around North America that are experiencing some toxic blooms. The appearance of blooms seems earlier this year than in the past and that is primarily due to the very hot weather and light rainfall in many areas, combined with last year’s overload of nutrients due to flooding.

In Manitoba there is a blue-green algae bloom at one end of Pelican Lake in southwestern Manitoba and there were two beaches on Lake Winnipeg that had some toxic blooms reported this weekend, one of the areas at Grand Beach and at Hillside beach. However there is another bloom developing in the north basin of Lake Winnipeg which is apparent in this satellite picture from July 8, posted by the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium.

Satellite picture of Lake Winnipeg July 8 2012

The blooms in the north basin are not mentioned in the Manitoba government news releases, I presume because there are not public beaches up there.

Unfortunately this is likely just the start of these warnings for this year. With the continuing hot weather we’re probably going to see many more. Last weekend I was struck by the government’s news release which happily proclaimed that beaches were safe to swim at. I suddenly wondered how we had slipped into an era where we have to check every day whether the water is safe or not. It reminds me of being in Toronto in recent years and hearing smog alerts with advice about whether children could play outside or not. These seem to me to be such basic warnings about how much we’re degrading the natural world we’re so dependent on. Let’s hope we can move quickly to start to reverse these declines.

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