Water Specialists: Blue-Green Algae gets early start in local waterways

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) With a wet and warm summer so far, water specialists say the blue-green algae blooms have gotten an early start this year.

Bruce Deadman has spent a lifetime of summers on the Bay of Green Bay. Just last weekend, his grandchildren were playing in the water, but when he woke up this morning it was a completely different story.

“No not this morning. They (his grandchildren) couldn't have. There's no way they could use it and that would be disappointing,” said Deadman

Deadman said he’s used to the blue-green algae build up every year, but this year he said it was different.

“Green algae we have seen before, but never this early,” said Deadman.
Water quality specialist says Deadman is right, it is early this year, but there’s a reason for it.

“What we are seeing in Wisconsin, particularly in terms of our climates changing, is our winter is getting warmer, our nights are getting warmer and we are having more precipitation fall in rain rather than snow,” said Julia Noordyk, water quality and coastal communities outreach specialist, Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute.

“So with that rain, there is runoff and with that comes off a lot of excess nutrients from the landscape, urban and rural sources,” said Erin Houghton, watershed specialist with NEW Water. “So when we get these pulses of warm weather, nice warm water and sunshine, that's the perfect recipe for the blooms to take off.”

Houghton and Noordyk said runoff is an ongoing issue and they continue to work to manage it from an urban, industrial and agricultural standpoint.

“In our fields we want to cover crops and put in buffers along sensitive stream banks,” said Noordyk. “In urban areas, we want to manage storm water runoff.”

Reducing runoff will help in the future, but unfortunately, there isn't much that can be done about the current blooms.

“Should you come in contact with it, wading in it or recreating in it, just make sure you rinse off thoroughly after you are done,” said Houghton.