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Updates in comments section below. Warning signs are being posted at Belwood Lake advising people to take precautions because of the presence of blue-green algae. The algae contain a toxin called microcystin which can cause illness when ingested by people or animals.
The signs are being posted by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health at several locations around the reservoir.
The Grand River Conservation Authority and public health are advising lake users:
- Don’t swim in the lake
- Keep children and pets away from the algae
- Avoid contact with the algae
- Don’t eat fish from the lake
- Don’t use the water for drinking or any other purpose
- Boating is allowed, but boaters should avoid touching the algae.
There have been no reports of human illness caused by the algae.
Belwood Lake is a 12 kilometre-long reservoir on the Grand River north of Fergus. At the south end of the lake is the Belwood Lake Park, a day-use area popular with boaters and picnickers. There is no designated swimming area in the park along the reservoir shore. The park has a separate swimming area in an old quarry which is not affected by the algae and remains open.
Around the rest of the reservoir are about 335 cottages on land owned by the GRCA, as well as several private campgrounds and day camps. Swimming is a common activity at these areas.
Signs are being posted at the park gatehouse and boat ramp Notices are also being sent to cottagers and camp operators.
The algae bloom was noticed this week when mats of decaying algae started appearing on the shoreline. Samples were taken on Thursday for analysis which showed that the algae contained the toxin microcystin. When the algae die, the toxin is released in the water where it naturally breaks down in about five to seven days.
Algae blooms are a natural phenomenon. They tend to occur during hot, dry weather. Algae feed on phosphorous, a chemical found naturally in soil as well as in manure, fertilizers and human waste. For the Silo, Cameron Linwood.
More information on blue-green algae is available:
- in the Newsroom section of the GRCA website at grandriver.ca
- on the Health Canada website at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/alt_formats/pdf/pubs/water-eau/guide_water-2012-guide_eau/guide_water-2012-guide_eau-eng.pdf
on the Ontario Ministry of Environment website at https://www.ontarioca/page/blue-green-algae