Skip to main content

Climate change is warming lakes, leading to more toxic algae blooms, MPCA warns

The agency says blue-green algae blooms are occurring all across the state.

The hot, dry weather has set the stage for toxic blue-green algae blooms throughout Minnesota.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued an algae warning this week, saying the persistent drought is increasing the potential for these toxic blooms to occur. Blue-green algae can potentially kill dogs and other animals who come into contact with it, and may sicken humans.

The blooms are often compared to spilled green paint or pea soup in the lake, and are commonly found in warm, shallow waters during the summer. But the MPCA says the warming climate is making blue-green algal blooms more widespread.

“Hot, dry conditions are ideal for growing algae," said Lee Engel, surface water monitoring supervisor for the MPCA. "We are experiencing higher temperatures due to climate change, and that means warmer lakes, even in Northern Minnesota. We are seeing harmful algal blooms in more places, some of which persist throughout the season.”

The agency is reminding people to be cautious and look out for the dangerous blooms.

Unfortunately, while most blooms are not toxic, you can't tell just by looking at it. While there is a simple overnight test anyone can do using a mason jar, the agency's general advice is caution.

"When in doubt, stay out!" the MPCA says.

Follow Bring Me The News on YouTube

While dry, hot conditions stoke the possibility of an algae bloom occurring, there is another culprit: phosphorus. The MPCA says the mineral is one of the leading pollutants of lakes in Minnesota, and "fuels the growth of algae."

"Preventing phosphorus pollution is even more important in lakes warming as a result of climate change," the agency notes. 

Anyone who has property on or near a lake should take steps to reduce phosphorus pollution, including:

  • Using rain gardens, rain barrels and other measures to limit the amount of urban storm water runoff that reaches the water
  • Responsible lawn management, such as the use of phosphorus-free lawn fertilizer, preventing grass clippings and lawn waste from reaching storm drains, and picking up after pets
  • Establishing cover crops increasing organic matter and reducing tillage
  • Planting deep-rooted native plants along ditches, lakes, and streams, in order to slow down and filter runoff
  • Managing manure responsibly to prevent it from entering lakes and streams

Next Up


1 dead, 2 with life-threatening injuries in Minnesota crash

The crash happened just after 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Image (1)

School bus carrying students plunges into river southwest of Fargo

None of the kids suffered life-threatening injuries, though some were taken to area hospitals.

Richfield High School

Richfield High School cancels weekend events after shooting

Two men were shot outside the school's football stadium

Screen Shot 2022-09-23 at 10.21.38 PM

Sound of shots, mass panic at Richfield football game streamed live on YouTube

Gunfire caused panic at a varsity football game Friday night.

J. Gordon

K-9 search leads to $36K fentanyl seizure during traffic stop

A traffic stop was made after the vehicle was seen speeding through the area.

Screen Shot 2022-09-23 at 5.20.08 PM

Gov. Walz reacts to Tuesday death of Mankato West student

The governor is a former geography teacher at the high school.

court room

Teen pleads guilty to Minneapolis carjacking, admits to others

The man was yanked out of the vehicle by witnesses before fleeing the scene.

Federal court house

Three plead guilty to roles in murder on Red Lake Reservation

The 2019 murder left another person seriously injured.


Sheriff: Heifer shot and butchered on farmer's pasture near Aitkin

Anyone with information regarding the incident is encouraged to call the Clearwater County Sheriff's Office.


Minneapolis murder suspect arrested in Wisconsin

The man has been wanted by police since the shooting happened in April.


blue-green algae mpca

Warm fall weather leads to algae blooms on Minneapolis lakes

Conditions are right for more lakes to develop blue-green algae blooms.

blue-green algae mpca

Heat wave leads to early reports of blue-green algae on some Minnesota lakes

The August-like weather could mean a green summer on local lakes.


Harmful algae blooms at 3 Minneapolis lakes are improving

Test results aren't in yet, but the park board says people can use the lakes again.


3 Minneapolis lakes experiencing harmful algae blooms

The algae turns the lake water to a murky brown color.

Possibly poisonous blue-green algae was found in another Twin Cities lake

This type of blue-green algae has sickened humans and killed dogs.


Warning in Edina over toxic algae levels in Lake Cornelia

High amounts of algae have been detected, which could include toxic blue-green algae.

wall lake fergus falls algae mpca

MPCA seeks to add 300-plus lakes, streams to impaired waters list

For the first time, the MPCA listed waters in greater Minnesota as contaminated with PFAS.