“Very green!” Tests show blue-green algae in Veterans Park lagoon, health officials say

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Health Department said Tuesday, August 1st water quality testing conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health indicated the presence of cyanobacteria (or blue-green algae) in the lagoon at Veterans Park. The discovery could lead to illness -- and similar conditions are being suspected in connection with the death of a dog in Madison.

"I was commenting to my daughter Felicity here that it is very green!" Kathleen Deboer said. "I suppose it would make me think twice."

Health officials noted there is no swimming allowed in the lagoon.

Veterans Park lagoon

At this time, no reports of illness related to activities at the lagoon have been reported. Informational signs notifying the public will soon be posted at Veterans Park.

Blue-green algae is a common algae found in rivers, lakes, and ponds throughout Wisconsin. These algae can form “blooms’ due to high nutrient levels or when environmental conditions are favorable. Blooms may appear as scum layers or large floating mats and often have a bluish-green color and unpleasant odor. While not all algae blooms are harmful, some species of blue-green algae naturally produce a toxic substance that can cause illness or health effects in humans or animals through direct contact, ingestion, or inhalation.

Veterans Park lagoon

"I'm not going to try and splash the water," Azul Alcantara, age nine said.

The Alcantara family already has a plan in place before they head out onto the water.

Veterans Park lagoon

"If I go use it, the canoe or the paddle, I'll have to re-wash it if I really have any contact," Israel Alcantara said.

In Madison, health officials are investigating after a three-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Lucy died after swimming in Lake Mendota. It happened Sunday, July 30th.

Lucy

Lucy

Commissioner of Health Bevan Baker issued this statement on the matter:

"The detection of blue-green algae in a local waterway serves as a reminder that any natural body of water can contain organisms that present a health risk. During these warm summer months, all area residents taking part in recreational water activities should be aware that algae may be present and take appropriate precautions."

Veterans Park lagoon

To protect yourself, family, or pets from illness:

  • Do not touch mats of algae, scum layers, foam, or other visible blooms of blue-green algae.
  • Do not swim in areas where water is discolored or where you see foam, scum, or mats of algae on the water’s surface.
  • Do not eat fish from or drink water that appears foamy or scummy.
  • Do not let dogs drink or swim in lake water during an algal bloom.
  • Always wash your hands or shower off with soap and water after participating in recreational water activities.
  • Always wash pets with clean water immediately if he/she swims or wades in water during an algal bloom.

For more information, you're encouraged to visit Milwaukee.gov/RecWater.