ND Health Department Sees Rise in Blue-Green Algae Reports


It’s not hard to miss blue-green algae. You can see it here a few feet away from the shoreline.

The toxic algae bloom is the culprit behind a blue-green algae warning that’s been placed on the lake for months.

But, for the first time since the warning has been issued, water samples from Patterson Lake have shown improvement.

“We took samples at the north side boat ramp by the game and fish and the beach, Patterson lake beach, both of those came back at really low levels of the blue-green algae,” says Matt Mack, facilities operations manager at Dickinson Parks and Reaction.

Mack says before the warning can be lifted the lake has to pass the same test twice.

“If those remain low, we could reduce it to either an advisory or completely take the advisory and warning down from Patterson Lake.”

Patterson Lake isn’t the only lake in North Dakota that has seen high levels of cyanotoxins, a toxin that’s released by blue-green algae. The Bowman/Haley Marina, along with a dozen others, has also been affected.

Mike Ell, an environmental scientist in the North Dakota Health Department’s division of water quality, says there are 12 lakes this year that have had reports of blue-green algae, compared to one last year.

“I’ve had reports from people from a number of different lakes, including Lake Tschida, Devils Lake, Lake Ashtabula that have asked those questions, why is this year any different, I swam in this green water before.“

He says there are more lakes in North Dakota that could have been affected by the toxin, but that’s because they got more calls from the public.

Ell says what makes this year different than year’s past is the number of reports the state health department received in the past few months.

“People are more aware at the risk that these blooms can pose to public health and pets and livestock.” 

He says now that summer is winding down and weather is getting cooler, the lakes are getting better. “

The intensity of the blooms, the extent of the blooms on the lakes seem to be diminishing.”

Ell says improved technology has helped the Heatlh Department’s ability to do more testing and analysis.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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