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The original item was published from 7/8/2022 2:31:00 PM to 7/15/2022 3:30:19 PM.

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Health

Posted on: July 8, 2022

[ARCHIVED] Blue-Green Algae Reported at Troy Beach

Person collecting a water sample.

St. Croix County Parks and Public Health have reported blue-green algae blooms in the St. Croix River near Troy Beach in the Town of Troy. They recommend avoiding swimming in this area until water conditions improve. Both the Parks and Public Health Departments continue to monitor the water quality in this area. Updates will be provided on this page.

It is important to know the health hazards associated with algae blooms and to evaluate water quality every time you head to the lake or river. Please look for and follow the recommended signage at beaches. As a general rule, do not swim in water where you cannot see your feet in knee-deep water or if water is discolored or scummy.

About Blue-Green Algae

Blue-green algae are a normal part of Wisconsin rivers and lakes. Problems arise if nutrients in the water are elevated, causing them to grow to high numbers also known as a bloom. Blooms are most common during mid to late summer.

Blue-green algae blooms can create toxins that may make both humans and pets sick after they swallow, breathe in, or have contact with the water. Symptoms in humans may include:

  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Headache
  • Abdominal Pain 
  • Cough 
  • Sore Throat 
  • Skin Rash Blistering

Blue-green algae poisoning in animals shares similar symptoms with heat stroke and water intoxication. Symptoms in animals may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of Coordination
  • Seizures

If you or your pet develop an illness you think might be related to blue-green algae, talk to your healthcare provider and notify the Wisconsin Division of Public Health by filling out their online survey or call 608-266-1120

How to Keep You and Your Pets Safe

Here are some tips to stay safe when swimming:

  • Avoid swimming in water that:
    • Looks green like pea soup
    • Has floating scum, mats, or films
    • Has green dots or globs floating beneath the surface
    • Has the appearance of spilled paint (green, blue, white, red, or brown)
  • Always choose the clearest water you can find, especially when small children and dogs are swimming
  • Do not swallow lake or river water
  • After swimming, wash yourself and your pets with clean water

Note: Filamentous green algae that are long and stringy, like green hair, are not dangerous.

Why are we seeing blue-green algae blooms in the St. Croix River?

  • Blue-green algae blooms are seen during periods of calm weather when wind speeds are low and waves are not strong. These conditions allow blue-green algae to float to the surface and form scums.
  • Wind can push floating blue-green algae to the downwind shore, and with winds predominantly from the west during the summer, we may be seeing more of these accumulations on the east bank of the river.
  • River flows are also below average levels, probably due to past and current drought conditions in the region. Without higher flows, blue-green algae are not being moved downstream as rapidly as in the past.
  • Blue-green algae are in all water bodies in Wisconsin. Waters with high nutrient levels are more susceptible, but even high-quality waters may experience surface blooms during periods of calm weather.
  • Bloom monitoring is challenging because wind, waves, and river flow can change blue-green concentrations very rapidly. The best thing you can do to keep yourself and your family safe is to learn what blue-green algae looks like and to assess water conditions for yourself before swimming.

More Information

For more information on blue-green algae visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website

St. Croix County would like to thank Wisconsin DHS and DNR for their assistance in monitoring this algae bloom.

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