Blue-green algae bloom in South Nation River at Chesterville

The South Nation River, as photographed from the top of the Chesterville Dam on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

‘Green slick’

CHESTERVILLE — A blue-green algae bloom continues to persist on the South Nation River in Chesterville.

Potentially harmful if ingested, the green scum first generated public complaints to Ontario’s Spills Action Centre on Sept. 9, which in turn contacted the local watershed authority about the “green slick,” says South Nation Conservation (SNC) communications specialist Taylor Campbell.

SNC itself “also received complaints about the algae and an odour present” in the river, acknowledges Campbell, though he points out that “reports of pollution or spills” must be made to the Action Centre operated by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP).

MECP staff collected samples Sept. 23 and confirmed the stuff in the water as a bloom of blue-green algae — also known as cyanobacteria.

The river as it appeared Sept. 28 on the Chesterville downtown waterfront. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

The species “has the potential to produce harmful toxins to humans and animals,” Campbell said by email. “We advise residents to not drink, touch or cook with the water from the South Nation River in Chesterville. Any areas of yourself or your pet that may have come into contact with the River water in Chesterville should be washed using clean water and soap. This messaging has been shared via our social media channels.”

SNC and the MECP have since been in contact with the Casselman Water Treatment Plant, which draws water out of the river for that community. Authorities there have confirmed their system complies with the Safe Drinking Water Act and its regulations, following precautionary sampling by the Ontario Clean Water Agency.

According to Campbell, algae “is typically present at this time of year when there are excess nutrients in the water during low water conditions, when water temperatures are high and oxygen is low.” The current bloom “is not caused by the ongoing concrete repairs at the Chesterville Dam,” he added.

Work valued at $446,000 began Sept. 23 at the Dam. The job is expected to conclude Oct. 14th.

Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

This article was edited to correct the date of these photos, which were taken on Sunday, Sept. 29.

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