High concentrations of algae has been detected in Lake Cornelia in Edina, prompting the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to urge the public to not touch the water.
The samples may include blue-green algae, which produces toxins that can harm people and animals if ingested. The Nine Mile Creek Watershed District is still evaluating samples to determine the type and number of the algae, and the public is urged to stay away in the meantime.
Blue-green algae, which are actually a kind of bacteria called cyanobacteria, can grow when there are high amounts of phosphorus in a lake — often originating from runoff or other human-made pollutants.
To prevent such build-up, a project called Adopt A Drain allows Minnesota residents to pledge to keep leaves (which are rich in phosphorus) and other pollutants out of storm drains.
The MPCA website has more information on the health risks of blue-green algae, which can include vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, eye irritation, coughing or a headache within hours or days of drinking, inhaling droplets or contact with skin.
Dogs are especially susceptible to encountering the algae, which can cause fatal reactions. If a dog swims in a lake with algae, the owner should rinse them off immediately and not allow them to lick their fur, according to the MPCA.