What to know about toxic algal blooms recently detected in Washtenaw County lakes

Harmful algae bloom. Bolles Harbor, Monroe, MI, Lake Erie. July 22, 2011. (NOAA | Wikimedia Commons)

WASHTENAW COUNTY, Mich. – Although lakes, rivers and ponds contain blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, some species are toxin-producing and can make people and animals sick.

In the right conditions, Cyanotoxins can quickly multiply to form harmful algal blooms.

According to Michigan’s interactive map of current harmful algal blooms, two bodies of water in Washtenaw County were recently impacted by the natural phenomenon.

Little Portage Lake recently had a suspected algal bloom, according to officials, while Ford Lake was confirmed to contain cyanotoxin during a recent algal bloom.

According to the Washtenaw County Health Department, people and pets should avoid bodily contact with water that:

  • Contains scum
  • Looks blue-green
  • That appears to have spilled paint or a green sheen on its surface

In addition to avoiding direct contact with the water, swallowing lake water should also be avoided.

Those concerned about potential illness caused by swallowing contaminated water should speak with their health care provider or contact Poison Control at 800-222-1222.

Illnesses can also be reported to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at 800-648-6942.

Suspicious-looking algae can be reported to AlgaeBloom@Michigan.gov or by calling 1-800-662-9278.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.