Toxic Blue-Green Algae blooming in Wisconsin lakes - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Toxic Blue-Green Algae blooming in Wisconsin lakes

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Menomonie (WQOW)- If Blue-Green Algae blooms are present, experts say you'll know about it because it's murky, smelly, and not the safest.  The algae plants are actually a toxic bacteria that peak right around this time of year when the summer is at it's hottest, but researchers said it could be causing at least one area community to miss out on a big chunk of change.

Researchers at University of Wisconsin Stout said Menomonie is missing out on $36.1 million annually in tourism revenue because of eutrophic lakes, so they're doing something about it through the LAKES REU program.  The three year long program is funded by the National Science Federation to study the impact area lakes have on those that live nearby, and the impact those people inversely have on the lakes.  

Researchers said the algae blooms are particularly noticeable around Menomonie because of the dams in Lake Menomin and Tainter Lake, and because they are at the bottom of the watershed.  This gives more opportunity to phosphorous and other nutrients to build up, causing the bacteria.  The dark waters can be pretty dangerous, especially for dogs.  Swimming in the water can leave you with a rash or itchy skin, a cough or trouble breathing.

Dogs often show signs of sickness like throwing up, difficulty breathing, or can even die from it.  But researchers said the physical consequences are just one part of the problem.

"The economic impact is so huge to try and clean up this watershed.  The changes that need to take place, especially with regards to agriculture, will increase the profit and the yield of farmers so much anyways, to change these conservation tillage and different kinds of farming practices, that it's really in everybody's interest to make these changes.  What our research is trying to reveal is the easiest way to make sure that we have that type of land change, and as fast as possible, and this takes, I think, buy in from every body that it's reasonable and worthwhile to do, that it's really accomplish able," said UW-Stout Professor and LAKES REU Director Nels Paulson.

Most veterinarian hospitals around the Chippewa Valley said Friday they have not seen any cases yet this year of dogs ingesting Blue-Green Algae, but said they usually start to see a lot more later in the summer when the weather gets a lot warmer.

LAKES REU research results from this summer will be presented on August 3 at the Raw Deal in Menomonie at 5:00pm.  That event is open to the public.

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