Blue-green advisory for Lake Winnebago

OSHKOSH – Health officials in Oshkosh have declared a water quality advisory on Lake Winnebago because of blue-green algae.

It’s a warning that may last all summer long.

It’s in the backwater channels. It’s in the area bays too. Blue-green algae has bloomed on the western shore of Lake Winnebago.

Fisherman Ron Vander Zanden has seen it before.

“There’s a lot of green, but then it turns blue. It’s real thick. If you go through it, you’ll see a path going through it,” said Ron Vander Zanden, Menasha.

Department of Natural Resources water experts say blue-green algae is a dangerous bacteria “that can produce toxins, and those toxins can cause symptoms,” DNR water resources supervisor Rob McLennan said.

“Itchy eyes, or rashes, sometimes respiratory issues. And if ingested by humans or pets, in sufficient quantities, it can make you very ill, or even kill pets.”

McLennan says algae blooms may be worse this year.

“From the frequent storms, we get runoff from city streets coming through the storm sewer, ditches. And streams draining agriculture land all add nutrients into the water and they grow algae, and blue-green algae,” said McLennan.

Signs are posted at Oshkosh boat landings. People are asked to avoid water skiing, wake boarding, and tubing near the algae.

McLennan says algae may be in one spot one day, and gone the next. He says high winds can blow the blooms right across the lake.

Across the lake, High Cliff State Park officials reported no extra algae Tuesday.

In the meantime, fishermen say they will endure.

“I don’t like it, nobody else does,” said Vander Zanden.

And warning signs will stay up at area boat landings.

“They should be advised to be cautious of blue-green algae throughout the summer months, not just when they hear something from the health department,” said McLennan.

Lake Winnebago is not alone with this problem.

Other lakes like the Petenwell Flowage in central Wisconsin and Tainter Lake in the western part of the state also suffer from blue-green algae.

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