THUNDER BAY – The Thunder Bay District Health Unit says routine water test earlier this month showed the presence of blue-green algae at Surprise Lake.
The tests, conducted on Sept. 17, were done by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, which is conducting toxin samples on the water sample.
Until the results are known, the health unit reminds the public that when blue-green algae blooms are present, and for about two weeks after they dissipate, it’s wise to avoid the water as a precaution and not swim in it, drink it or use it for household purposes.
The public is also reminded to keep pets away from the water, because their smaller size makes them more vulnerable to potential toxins.
Blue-green algae are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams, but can increase in warm, shallow surface water and form blooms that make the water look like green pea soup or turquoise paint.
Some blooms form toxins that pose health risks to people and animals when consumed, inhaled, or in some cases, just from skin contact.
If contact does occur, the health unit advises to wash the area with soap and water and rinse with clean water to remove the algae.
While relatively rare in this region, with rising water temperatures they could become more common.
Surprise Lake is located near Gorham Township, north of Thunder Bay.