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Elk Lake pond scum dangerous for pets, CRD warns

People and their pets are being advised to stay out of the waters at Elk and Beaver lakes after blue-green algae, also known as pond scum, was discovered.

The Capital Regional District first became alerted to the visible blue-green sheen near the Elk Lake boathouse on Saturday. Water quality tests this week confirmed the presence of the toxic bacterial algae.

"We do want to let park visitors know that they and their pets can become sick from ingesting the water," said Janette Loveys, manager of park operation services with the CRD.

Loveys says blue-green algae blooms on Elk Lake are not a new occurrence – a number of them appeared on the lake at this time in 2009.

Even once the algae naturally disappears, the water will remain a health concern for park users and their pets for at least another two weeks.

According to Health Canada, blue-green algae usually forms in "shallow, warm, slow-moving or still water."

Human health concerns regarding ingested blue-green algae include headaches, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

Health Canada says animals can get extremely sick or die, as a result of ingesting blue-green algae.

Advisory signs are posted around the lake with information about the health concerns, and Loveys advises that park users check for the most current information on the quality of the lake water.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

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