Sometimes you get sick. Did you know your lake can too? You may stumble upon a “closed” sign at your favorite spot on the water and wonder why is my lake closed? Just as you can get sick if you fail to properly take care of yourself, it’s also possible for your lake or pond’s health to suffer without proper management, requiring swimming, fishing and other recreation to be put on hold while water quality is restored.
One of the most common reasons your waterbody may be closed is the presence of certain algal species. While many forms of algae are harmless, certain species known as cyanobacteria (often referred to as blue-green algae) may develop. If left unmanaged, these harmful algal blooms (HABs) can become so severe that they produce toxins that are harmful to wildlife, livestock, pets and public health. Suitable conditions that encourage these HABs include: warm water temperatures, increased pH levels, stagnant water, an abundance of light exposure and excessive nutrient levels. Environmental scientists are still learning about the specific effects of toxin exposure, but evidence suggests harmful algal bloom toxins may lead to the development of neurological, physiological and respiratory problems—and, in extreme cases, even death.