UPDATE: Blue-green algae found in Thames River

The Thames River is noticeably green at the Parry Bridge on Keil Dr. in Chatham. August 30, 2017. (Photo by Matt Weverink)

Recent lab tests have confirmed that a blue-green algae bloom has expanded into the Thames River in Chatham.

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks received reports of possible harmful algae bloom in McGregor Creek on Thursday, August 13.

An investigation was conducted and water samples were collected and sent for testing.

Municipal officials said the situation is being monitored, and at this time, drinking water and public beaches are not affected.

Residents should stay out of the water as a precaution because the toxins can have adverse health impacts, like itchy, irritated eyes and itchy skin. Drinking the water can cause symptoms like headaches, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting are possible. Pets and livestock should also not drink the water.

The municipality reported on Friday afternoon that further analysis of water samples from McGregor Creek has revealed low levels of harmful toxins.

“At this time, continue to avoid contact with the algae bloom, as toxin levels may change depending on algae present and environmental conditions,” said Dai Hing Yong,┬áPublic Health Inspector at CK Public Health.

Blue-green algae, also called cyanobacteria, are microscopic plants that live in freshwater. Normally, blue-green algae are barely visible, but during warm weather, algae can rapidly grow to form a large mass called a bloom, giving the water a green appearance.

Phosphorous and nitrogen can contribute to the growth of blue-green algae. Runoff from agricultural products, household fertilizer, faulty septic systems, and improper waste management systems can contribute to increased levels of phosphorous and nitrogen in local freshwater.

If you have any questions, contact CK Public Health at 519-355-1071, or visit the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks.