Nova Scotia

Concerns persist over blue-green algae blooms in Lake Banook

HRM says risk advisory remains in place a month after spotting suspected blue-green algae.

HRM says risk advisory remains in place a month after spotting suspected blue-green algae

Lake Banook is set to host the Pan American Canoe Sprint Championships Sept. 13-16. (CBC)

A risk advisory remains in place for Lake Banook nearly a month after the municipality first warned the public about suspected blue-green algae blooms that can be toxic. 

The municipality has warned the public to avoid swimming and to keep their pets away from the suspected blue-green algae. In New Brunswick, three dogs died earlier this summer after coming into contact with blue-green algae. 

Water safe for paddling, not swimming

Despite warnings about water quality in Lake Banook, paddlers are still out on the lake, which will host the Pan American Canoe Sprint Championships next week. 

Coun. Sam Austin said even though swimming isn't encouraged on the lake right now, "completely ending all activity on the lake would be overkill for the situation that we have."

Anyone who comes in contact with algae blooms is advised to wash with tap water as soon as possible. 

The Dartmouth Centre councillor said he's worried about the long-term health of the water.

"I think the lake's been sending us a couple signals that things are changing," Austin said pointing to the presence of the algae blooms, E. coli (this year's levels are lower than they've been in the recent past) and aquatic weeds in Lake Banook. 

"You throw in the warm weather and maybe this is our new normal."

A closer look at an algae bloom in Lake Banook. (Halifax Regional Municipality photo)

A spokesperson for Halifax Regional Municipality said the risk advisory will remain in effect until there are no visible blooms in the area because toxins can still be released as blooms die. 

"We've received some test results and although to date they've indicated toxins are within safe limits, we observed blooms in the area during and following the sampling events," Erin DiCarlo said in an email to CBC News.  

Study looking into water pollution

The Halifax Regional Municipality commissioned a pollution control study of Lake Banook and Lake Micmac in February. The study is supposed to determine the origin of bacteria in the water.

Results are expected this fall.

"Doing the study may turn out to be the easy part," Austin said. "When it comes back with a solution, that's when the hard work really begins."

With files from Pam Berman and Information Morning Nova Scotia