The Ministry of Environment (MOE) is looking into the green tinge visible in some areas of Shuswap Lake. One swimmer reported not being able to see the lake bottom in the swimming area at Herald Park on Sunday and there are reports of a few affected areas in Salmon Arm Bay.
Dennis Einarson, MOE environmental impact assessment biologist, was on the water investigating the situation Tuesday, with plans to do the same on Thursday, July 23.
“We were on the water July 7 and there were small bits (of algae) starting to develop around Salmon Arm Bay,” said Einarson, who was unwilling to speculate on what kind of algae are currently visible. “There are so many algae and each one is different. But I’m pretty sure it’s not ochromonas, the golden-brown algae.”
He says there were two small ochromonas blooms recently – one just south of Totem Pole Resort and another at Marble Point.
Einarson says ochromonas is a very small algae that basically can grow very quickly in cold water with very few nutrients.
“All it needs is a source of carbon and nitrogen and it can engulf some other bacteria,” he says, noting a rainstorm that brings new nutrients from land or rivers and streams can allow the ochromonas to bloom.
“They’re the first out of the gate, but they don’t last long because other algae come forward quickly and overtake them.”
Recent hot, mostly calm days have encouraged other algae to bloom, a not unusual occurrence at this time of year, he adds.
“There are algae in the lake and they will grow,” Einarson said. “Whether they bloom is another question.”
He says several reports at the end of May and beginning of June regarding algae in the lake, actually turned out to be pollen.
“The other calls were all pine pollen; it was so heavy it was absorbing water and sinking about a metre under water,” Einarson says. “It was a heavy pollen year throughout Canada.”
Anyone who spots what they suspect are algae blooms or other concerns, are advised to call the Ministry of Environment’s Report all Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line at 1-877-952-7277.