(KXNET) — Several lakes and dams in the KX viewing area top the current Harmful Algal Bloom Water Advisory/Warning list.

As of the September 12 update by the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality, 8 of the 13 listings involve locations in western North Dakota. They are:

  • Grant County: Lake Tschida – water advisory
  • Stark County: Patterson Lake – water advisory
  • Williams County: Epping-Springbrook Dam – water advisory
  • Morton County: Sweet Briar Lake – water advisory
  • Morton County: Harmon Lake – water advisory
  • Sioux County: Froelich Dam – water advisory
  • Bowman County: Bowman-Haley Dam – water advisory
  • Ward County: Makoti Lake – water warning

A “water advisory” means the lake or dam may contain blue-green algae that can be harmful to humans and pets. People are advised to avoid swimming, waterskiing or tubing if the water appears to have a green color or tint. You’re also advised to avoid swallowing the water and to rinse off with non-lake water.

A “water warning” means the lake or dam contains high concentrations of blue-green algal toxins that can be harmful to humans and pets. People are advised not to swim, waterski or tube in the water.

The phrase to remember, says the state: “When in doubt, stay out.”

A harmful algae bloom is, essentially, an overgrowth of cyanobacteria in surface water. They are microscopic organisms that, en masse, create a blue-green appearance like a floating bloom or crust on the water.

The toxins can cause harm to people, wildlife, livestock, pets and aquatic life. Almost every year in North Dakota a few cases of pet and livestock deaths occur due to drinking water with harmful algae blooms.

Specific human health effects are:

  • Allergic-like reactions
  • Skin rashes
  • Eye irritation
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Respiratory irritation
  • Neurological effects

The algae blooms develop in part from excess nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen seeping into the water, warm water temperatures, slow-moving water and lengthy sunlight.

You can view and download the complete advisory/warning list here.

You can learn more about harmful algae blooms and how they form here.