Tour looks at Chain of Lakes' improved water quality

Published online: Jul 28, 2010 News SARAH NIENABER -
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hree pontoon boats drifted Monday evening through the Horseshoe Chain of Lakes near Cold Spring. But these boats were afloat for more than the enjoyment of a beautiful evening on the lake.

The pontoons and a tour were part of a routine meeting of the Sauk River Watershed District. The watershed district was joined Monday night by members of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The evening lake stroll focused on the water quality in the Chain of Lakes, which is impaired but is better than it has been.

The Chain of Lakes has a history of being home to various kinds of algae, including cyanobacteria, more commonly known as blue-green algae. Blue-green algae is present naturally in lakes and streams. It's virtually harmless in its natural low numbers, but in abundance the algae poses health risks to people and animals.

Blue-green algae becomes abundant in warm, shallow, undisturbed surface water that receives a lot of sunlight. Then, the algae can form blooms that discolor the water and form floating rafts or scum on the water's surface.

"There are higher algal concentrations due to higher nutrient levels in the Chain of Lakes," said MPCA algae specialist Matt Lindon, who shared his knowledge about algae during the tour.

Consuming water with high levels of blue-green algae toxins has been known to harm the liver and nervous system of lab animals, pets, livestock and people. Pets and livestock can die when consuming large amounts of contaminated water from shorelines.


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