Sask. swimmers warned to watch for blue-green algae blooms

People swimming in or drinking water affected by algae blooms may experience flu-like symptoms, while pets and livestock are also at risk.

Shimmering, foamy blooms develop quickly and typically last up to three weeks

Swimming in or drinking water where there’s an algae bloom may cause a sore throat, red skin, cramps and/or diarrhea. (Courtesy of Ray Scott )

Weeks of hot weather have cooked up the perfect conditions for algae blooms in Saskatchewan. 

People are being warned not to swim in or drink affected water, which may cause a sore throat, red skin, cramps and diarrhea. 

The blue-green algae blooms, that appear like a shimmering, foamy pea-soup substance, often form in lakes and reservoirs with shallow, slow-moving or still water with sufficient nutrients. 

"It tends to appear in hot conditions, and tends to appear quite suddenly," said Ron Podbielski, spokesperson for Saskatchewan's Water Security Agency.

Check 'beach health' before heading out

People are encouraged to check an online listing of water quality for 67 swimming areas in Saskatchewan, provided by the provincial Ministry of Health. 

The document, however, doesn't have data for all listed areas nor does it carry information on any private beaches in Saskatchewan.

Algae blooms, which typically last about three weeks, can also be pushed around a body of water by wind. 

"The caution is that people might have said two days ago, 'This area looks completely fine,' and that's how fast [algae blooms] can spring up," Podbielski said. 

Algae can also take on a light-blue, grey or tan colour — and may smell like a rotten egg.  (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

Pets and livestock are also at risk of experiencing health issues if exposed to affected water. 

The Water Security Agency cautions against eating shellfish or fish if these are caught in areas of water where there's a bloom.

Anyone experiencing health symptoms related to algae contamination is asked to call Healthline 811 or contact a healthcare provider.


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