WILBERFORCE, ON – A municipality is connecting people to information in hopes of protecting them from dangerous algae.

The Municipality of Highlands East says there has been a dramatic increase in blue-green algae outbreaks in recent years.

Trying to ease the minds of ratepayers and lakefront property owners as a whole, the municipality has shared a guide to the harmful algae. It was created by the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners Associations.

According to the guide, blue-green algae is a microscopic organism that occurs in lakes and rivers.

Although the name suggests that it is a particular colour, it can also be olive green or red.

The coalition says that the algae can be identified as it goes through different stages. Stage one looks as though the water is cloudy but you are still able to see through it. Although there are no notable health effects from this stage of bloom, swimming is not advised in any water with dense algae blooms.

Stage two means the water has changed colours and the algae itself may be in balls, flakes or clusters in the water. It would look like a pea puree. Similar to stage one, swimming is not advised in any body of water that has dense algae in it.

In terms of effects on human health, stage two algae blooms can cause moderate symptoms like rashes or other skin and eye irritations.

Stage three blooms look as though someone spilt paint on the surface of the water, and there could be scum that has formed as well. Swimming in stage three blooms should not happen. Like two, swimmers can suffer from irritations and other sicknesses.

In terms of handling a bloom if you find one on your lake, the best thing to do is to take a picture. Once you have the picture, notify the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks by calling 1-866-663-8477.

You should also try notifying your lake association, neighbours and municipal government.

If there is a bloom on your lake it is important to not let anyone swim in or drink the water. As well it is important to not let the infested water into your house or cottage. Boiling or chlorinating the water can potentially release the toxins into the air.

Here is a link to the guide all of this information was pulled from: https://www.highlandseast.ca/files/blue-green-algae-identify-and-act.pdf