Swimming not recommended in Shuswap Lake where algae blooms can be seen

Residents and visitors are advised to watch for an algal bloom extending in a band around the perimeter of Shuswap Lake from the Salmon Arm wharf to past Herald Park and beyond Canoe beach.

Interior Health’s “cautionary notice” also includes Sunnybrae and the Sunnybrae Community Park. (See attached map)

A “Caution Notice” is displayed when algae is present, but tests have not identified toxins, or tests have not been performed/completed. With a caveat, Interior Health (IH) recommends:

• Avoid direct contact with the flower. In case of contact, rinse your body with clear water.

• Recreational activities, such as swimming, are discouraged in areas where the bloom is present.

• Do not drink drinking water directly from the lake. If your water intake is from the Salmon Arm portion of Shuswap Lake (i.e. Steamboat Island to Tappen Bay and Salmon Arm Wharf), consider using an alternate drinking water source. Contact your water supplier for more information. The water in the town of Salmon Arm is considered safe because it comes from another part of the lake and is constantly tested.

• Consider providing pets and livestock with an alternate source of drinking water.

The City of Salmon Arm, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD), and the First Nations Health Authority are posting signs at affected beaches to inform or warn the public.

“More water quality samples are being taken from affected sites this week and will be tested for the presence of microcystin, a toxin sometimes associated with blue-green algae blooms (also called cyanobacteria). Microcystin can be harmful to people, pets and livestock,” the Shuswap Watershed Council explained on its Facebook page.

IH issued its first advisory on August 10, after an outbreak was reported on August 8; it has since been expanded.

In an August 13 post, the watershed council said the water samples tested showed no signs of microcystin and further testing was planned for the following week. Two consecutive tests showing no signs of microcystin are required before an advisory can be rescinded.

IH reported Aug. 17 that the results of those tests were not yet available.

The bloom is being monitored by the First Nations Health Authority, City of Salmon Arm, CSRD, BC Parks and IH.

For health-related inquiries, you are encouraged to contact the Salmon Arm Health Center at 250-833-4100.

You can find more information about algae at HealthLink BC Cyanobacteria Bloom (Blue-Green Algae) or at the Ministry of Environment’s Algae Watch website. Inner health too offers information on beach advisories on its website.

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