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Blue-Green Algae basics

On August 22nd 2017 we received reports of a strange not seen before "film" on parts of Quesnel Lake.

Since that time CCQL has contacted the BC Ministry of Environment and BC Interior Health for advice on what this may be and to request testing.

As you may be aware many Quesnel Lake residents do use the lake for drinking water, as well as recreation.

On August 29th 2017 the BC Ministry of Environment did confirm that a Ministry Biologist had conducted an inspection and confirmed a few different types of Cyanobacteria. We were provided with information on blue-green algae (Click Here) , but no warnings from Interior Health.

We continue to await confirmation of what exactly is being seen by our residents. The BC Ministry of Environment and Interior Health continue their testing.

So what is Blue- Green algae ?

Cyanobacteria was originally called glue-green algae because of its colour, but in fact they are bacteria. They are often found in many types of water systems, including wetlands, rivers and lakes.

Under certain conditions, including warm slow moving and shallow water, in addition to the over supply of nutrients- such as phosphorus, high growth rates of blue-green algae can occur.

In October 2011 Lake Erie experienced one of its worst blooms of blue-green algae. Record amounts of spring rain washed fertilizer into the lake, promoting the growth of microcystin, which produces cyanobacteria.

So why is this such an issue?

  • Increased levels of phosphates in water systems can increase the growth of algae and plants

  • Algae grows quickly in increased phosphate levels, but lives only a short time

  • This produces high levels of dead organic matter (algae) and the decaying matter consumes the dissolved oxygen

  • This produces Anoxia (no oxygen) or Hypoxia (low oxygen). With little to no oxygen, plants and animals will die off.

We have received comments from UNBC and Quesnel River Research Centre (QRRC), as they continue to monitor the lake. QRRC has depth profiles taken at 10 sites in Quesnel lake, where oxygen is measured.

The comments were " we have never seen any indication in past years of anoxia in the bottom waters, and even in last year, when we sampled the cores in the deposit and in other regions of the lake we did not see anoxia".

Please send us your reporst or photos if you have them to

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