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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.

Conditions on three Minneapolis lakes with harmful algae blooms are improving, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) said Tuesday.

The MPRB reported likely harmful algae bloom on Cedar Lake on May 15 and on May 22 it confirmed blue-green algae at Lake Nokomis and Lake of the Isles.

At this time, it recommended people and pets not go into the water as the blooms can be harmful to them.

But now it says conditions have improved and there are signs the algae blooms have subsided, according to a news release. The signs include improved water clarity in Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles and at all three lakes the brown color indicative of algae blooms has faded. 

MPRB was going to report test results to confirm the blooms are gone, but that's been delayed "as much as two weeks," the release said. The board did not give a reason for the delay. 

But despite that, it will remove the blue-green algae warning signs at the three lakes in the "coming days."

MPRB says in the near future it will remove the blue-green algae warning signs at the three lakes, and recommends people make their own decision about recreating in the lakes, noting anyone uncomfortable with that option should stay out of the water.

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, blue-green algae is not actually algae but a kind of bacteria. Contact with it can cause sickness including vomiting, diarrhea, rash, eye irritation, cough, sore throat and headache.

The park board advises people to avoid swimming in lakes if they cannot see their feet in knee-high water. The algae can also be harmful to dogs, so owners should prevent dogs from drinking lake water.

The algae blooms often occur in warm, shallow lakes. According to MPCA, algae blooms are a natural part of lake ecosystems. But they can be made less common by preventing nutrients, like fertilizer, from getting into lakes.

Minneapolis beaches are closed this summer to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

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