Lake algae causes problems for North Shore sailing camp

Lake algae causes problems for North Shore sailing camp

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - There are signs of an improving situation on the north shore lakefront when it comes to blue green algae blooms, but the state health department advisory against swimming remains in effect creating an odd sight and big challenges for one summer camp program.

It looks like fun, but in Mandeville it is a sign of a troubling summer

For decades campers have learned to sail on Lake Pontchartrain in small boats, called ‘Optimist prams’, but due to the state health department warning against swimming in the lake. This year counselors launch sailboats in the swimming pool, instead of the lake, at the Pontchartrain yacht club camp.

The club doesn’t want to take any chances but they admit the advisories have been confusing.

“Here we are looking at the water all day long, it looks beautiful but until DHH lifts a warning, we don’t feel comfortable putting campers in any danger,” said club manager Kaia Schindler.

" We put our heads together, and thought up quality things for the kids, and they would still learn sailing," said club commodore Marian Arrowsmith.

Counselors are doing whatever they can to try and provide the kids with sailboat experience, without being able to actually sail on the lake.

"Scavenger hunts for boat parts, relays on rigging, sailboat building," said Schindler.

While the kids seem to be making the most of summer camp, some parents have decided it’s not good enough.

"I'm already getting calls from parents requesting refunds, we are under the gun, and need some current water quality reports," said Schindler.

Recent tests show that Hurricane Barry may have helped the lake. Crabs have been spotted along the Mandeville lakefront, and salinity levels are up slightly, but the state health advisory against swimming in the lake remains in place, forcing campers, to stay in the pool.

A new summer sailing session starts Monday, and while counselors are hoping they get the okay soon to get boats back on the lake, there have already been a number of cancellations.

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