Poisonous algae germinating N.B. lakes, say researchers

A group that works to protect New Brunswick's lakes says blue-green algae is a growing problem.

Eastern Charlotte Waterways gets $66K to study blue-green algae

Algae feed on phosphorous — and that phosphorous comes from fertilizers and detergents that wash down driveways, onto streets and into streams and creeks.

A group that works to protect New Brunswick’s lakes says blue-green algae is a growing problem.

Researcher Donald Killorn said the algae blooms are one sign climate change is affecting Maritime ecology.

Blue-green algae forms in water that is shallow, warm and slow-moving or still. It grows mostly in summer months and can contain the cyanobacterial toxins, which are poisonous.

If water containing blue-green algae is ingested, it can cause headaches, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Swimming in water containing the toxin can irritate skin and eyes.

Killorn said it's healthy to have a certain amount of the bacteria in the water, but people who live on lake shores can sometimes overfeed it with nutrients.

"That’s part of our stewardship effort to try and educate people who live on the lakes to ensure that their septic systems are up to date, to ensure that they are not over fertilizing their lawns, to ensure that they have healthy riparian buffers to try and keep some of those nutrients out of the lake," Killorn said.

Health Canada recommends consulting a physician if anyone believes they may have come into contact with the bacteria.

Killorn's group, Eastern Charlotte Waterways, is getting $66,000 from the New Brunswick Environmental Trust Fund to continue studying blue-green algae and other parts of lake ecology.

The provincial government recently came under fire for using $4 million from the Environmental Trust Fund for flood remediation in Perth-Andover.