SLIDELL, LA (WVUE) - The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation is warning residents of the presence of harmful algae blooms found in Lake Pontchartrain.
Algal blooms, or "Harmful Algal Blooms," can be toxic and the LPBF advises the public to keep themselves and their pets away from the blooms.
Aerial surveillance has observed the presence of these microorganisms from the Tangipahoa River to Slidell, according to LPBF.
Blooms are usually noted for their green or blue-green appearance, scummy or viscous consistency, and the presence of odors.
Both the EPA and CDC advise against direct and indirect contact with these materials; it is generally unsafe to swim in water with algal blooms, and even boaters may be exposed to the toxins of the blooms through water spray, according to the news release issued by the foundation.
Officials said the toxins in the bloom can lead to serious health effects such as rashes, stomach or liver illness, respiratory problems and neurological effects.
According to the report, the algal blooms can also have a negative impact on the marine ecosystem, causing fish kills, and causing 'dead zones' or oxygen depleted areas that can cause a severe impact to oysters and other bottom species of fish.
LPBF warned that the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway might cause algal blooms in Lake Pontchartrain as the freshwater from the Mississippi River delivered a high concentration of nutrients to the lake.
Algae are naturally present, but harmful blooms form during conditions that include high nutrient concentrations, warm temperatures, ample sunlight, and slow moving winds, according to the foundation.
LPBF is currently monitoring factors including water temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity, turbidity, and microbiological analyses. LPBF incorporates this testing and additional analyses as well as other data collected to produce reports posted on the LPBF website, www.saveourlake.org.