New Brunswick

Algae bloom warning signs keep swimmers away, says lake association

Sheryl Bartlett says she wants the signs at Harvey Lake changed because she feels it discourages people from swimming in the lake.

Harvey Lake Association thinks precautionary sign discourages people from swimming in lake

Sheryl Bartlett is concerned that the signs around the lake discourage people from swimming. (Claude Gagnon/ ICI-Radio Canada)

Sheryl Bartlett says she wants the signs at Harvey Lake changed because she feels it discourages people from swimming in the lake.

"A good communication strategy is letting people know what the actual issues are and try to reduce the fear, so people can enjoy the lake," said Bartlett, the chair of the Harvey Lake Association.

Harvey Lake in Harvey Station, is about 30 minutes south of Fredericton, and was flagged last year for blue green algae blooms, which can be harmful when consumed.

Bartlett said after calling the Department of Health, she learned a new sign is placed there every year for precautionary measures.

While she agrees precautions are necessary, Bartlett wishes more information is provided about the algae and what safety measures should be taken.

"The thing about blue green algae is it's a complex issue, it's naturally occurring in lakes but when its hot and calm and there is excess nutrients… it could encourage the (algae) populations to explode."

Blue green algae blooms or cyanobacteria, is among many known toxic algae blooms. And while many are naturally occurring, the presence of nutrients, like nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon, all commonly found in fertilizers, can speed up the growth process. If people or pets come in contact with it or swallow it, it can cause skin irritation, rash, sore throat, sore red eyes, swollen lips, fever, nausea and vomiting and or diarrhea.

The precaution comes on the heels of Washademoak lake residents complaining about the brown colouring of the water in the lake.

With cities across the province experiencing level 1 heat warnings, Bartlett just hopes the stories shes hearing aren't true.

"If there are anecdotes of people keeping their children away from the water in summer time, and that's really too bad."

With files from Information Morning