State sends warning about algae in Lake Pontchartrain

State sends warning about algae in Lake Pontchartrain
State warns of an algae bloom in Lake Pontchartrain (June, 2019 | WVUE) (Source: WVUE)

MANDEVILLE, La. (WVUE) - Mandeville officials are advising the public to stay away from water which appears loaded with algae blooms, believed to be associated with the Bonnet Carre Spillway opening.

They have been spotted across the lake but seem especially strong on the North Shore.

For 16 years Andy Jones has fished Lake Pontchartrain, but lately he has had to go far beyond Mandeville to bring charter customers.

"We don't want to take anyone out and get them sick, we're not recommending that anyone keep any of the fish we're catching here," Jones said.

In Mandeville's harbors, thick, putrid smelling green algae is partially clogging waterways. And on the town beach, small dead fish can be seen along the piles of green growth, that has sprouted up in recent weeks.

"I've never seen the water like this," said Mandeville Mayor Donald Villere.

The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation said there have been a number of sightings across the North Shore and the state health department says the blue-green variety, is especially harmful, and humans should avoid contact.

"Cyanobacteria is absolutely dangerous to come in contact with, but there are other types, some are beneficial for crabs, and we need to sample," said Brady Skaggs with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation.

"It's a concern for me, we don't want people to swim or boat in this area with that kind of algae," Villere said.

Jones said he recently caught a carp in Mandeville waters. That’s an invasive species that is seen frequently in the spillway itself after an opening and he worries about seeing more.

"Our lakes pretty fresh right now, and we will see if they get a grip," Jones said.

Villere said he is not sure about what he can do about this problem, but he will be discussing it with his public works department.

At this point it's not clear how long the algae will remain.

"This has been an unprecedented opening, because we've done it twice in one season, and we've done it back-to-back so we're hopeful that it rebounds quickly, but this is new ground," Skaggs said.

Until it clears up, swimmers and fishermen are advised to stay away.

The state health department said algae toxins have not been found in the edible parts of fish, but they advise against eating any caught in the lake during the algae bloom.

The algae can cause rashes, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting. They said if you are exposed to it, you should wash with soap and water and see a doctor, if symptoms persist. They also said do not let your pets, drink the water.

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