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State cautions for algal bloom in Patterson Lake; Lake Tschida

Monday the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality cautioned that the water in Patterson Lake and Lake Tschida may contain blue-green algae that can be harmful to humans.

Patterson Lake
Two pelicans were the fishing at Patterson lake in Dickinson.
Dickinson Press File photo
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BISMARCK — On Monday, August 8, the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality issued Water Advisories for Stark County’s Patterson Lake, as well as Lake Tschida, which is approximately 15 miles south of Glen Ullin in Grant County, due to the presence of a blue-green algae.

According to the state government’s website the advisory means that Patterson Lake water may contain an algal bloom that is potentially harmful to humans and their pets.

To reduce the risk of illness, state officials advise that lake visitors avoid swimming, water-skiing or tubing if the water looks like spilled green paint or pea soup.

In humans this can cause allergic-like reactions, skin rashes, eye irritation, gastroenteritis, respiratory irritation and neurological effects. They advise that lake-goers avoid swallowing water and keep close supervision of children or pets who may ingest it. The NDDEQ cautions to rinse bodies with clean, non-lake water after swimming and to avoid areas of scummy water when boating.

The harmful algal bloom is the result of excessive nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, coupled with warm water temperatures, slow moving water and sunlight. Growth is exacerbated as the algae feeds on nutrients from septic systems, livestock and pet excrement, as well as the nitrogen runoff in yard and farm fertilizers.

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Once a body of water has an excess of nutrients, the problem cannot be fixed overnight.

Nutrients must be removed mechanically or be reduced naturally through internal cycling, while limiting the sources of nutrients in the watershed. Several North Dakota lakes have hypolimnetic drawdown systems that remove nutrient-rich water from the bottom of the lake. These systems can be effective at removing nutrients, but they do not address the nutrient sources. Sometimes an entire lake must be drained and refilled to restore water quality.

The advisory does however confirm that fish are safe to consume, but recommends the taking increased precautions, including rinsing hands with non-lake water after touching a fish and washing the fish thoroughly before cleaning and filleting it.

The NDDEQ advise for readers to call their doctor or veterinarian if they or their pet experience illness after swimming. For more information, contact the ND Department of Environmental Quality at 701-328-5210 or by email at deq@nd.gov.

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