Posted by Sudbury Northern Life Reporter Bill Bradley
Blue-green algae concerns brought about 250 Long Lake campers and permanent residents to a meeting at the T.M. Davies Community Centre in Lively Tuesday night.
The invasion of the primitive microscopic plants (cyanobacteria) that can thrive in fresh water lakes has prompted the establishment of the Long Lake/Black Lake Stewardship committee to protect water quality.
Long Lake first experienced blue-algae blooms last fall.
"We are attempting to educate all residents as to the seriousness of the blue-green algae problem and what steps we all must take in order to save our lake for the enjoyment for all in the future," said committee member Stephen Butcher, in a release. He edits a newsletter for the group.
A number of speakers were present, including Stephen Monet, Greater Sudbury manager of environmental planning initiatives, and Allan D. McDougall from the Sudbury and District Health Unit.
McDougall said the algae, commonly called pond scum, was present in several area lakes and around the world.
"Manitoba, Alberta and Quebec have already been dealing with the problem. It is new for us. We found it throughout the Sudbury area in Chapleau, Manitoulin Island, Sudbury East and the City of Greater Sudbury. These are not isolated incidents because the watersheds interconnect."
The French River and Nepewassi Lake have also had blooms, he noted.
"Two years ago we had only two blue-green algae advisories. This past year we had 13. Some were recurring. If conditions are ripe, it will multiply and spread. Once there it will probably come back if conditions are comparable," McDougall said.
Signs of a bloom can be a green hue along the shoreline. Sometimes it looks like paint is spilled on the water surface, causing an obvious discoloration. As it dies off, it forms a scum layer, he said.
The algae can contain a number of toxins, which can cause anything from rashes and abdominal cramps to liver failure.
McDougall said the key is prevention.
"It is better to be safe than sorry. Once we determine that blue-green algae is capable of producing a toxin that can get into your water supply, we issue an advisory. We will urge you as soon as it is present to stop using the water," he noted.
Though the algae can dissipate, the toxins can still come back in a week or two.
"The algae are not anchored to the lake bottom and are subject to wave action. More wave action could bring in more," McDougall said.
Butcher stressed there are actions lakeside property owners can take to prevent algae build up in the lake.
High nitrogen and phosphorus lawn and garden fertilizers can stimulate unwanted algae growth, he said. Automatic dishwater detergents are particularly bad for high phosphorus levels, he cited in his newsletter.
Bouchard Street Home Hardware personnel were present at the meeting with a display of eco-friendly alternatives to lawn and garden products, laundry detergents and a variety of cleaners.
Butcher also said some residents have raised concerns about more development taking place close to the lake, which could further affect water quality.
"There was a proposal for a new development on Edgewater Road. We notified the city we wanted to speak to that issue. The city recognizes we are at capacity and we cannot take a ton more development."
For more information, e-mail Stephen Butcher at [email protected] .