Algae deadly to dogs pops up at lake

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MATTOON, Ill. (WCIA) — Blue-green algae that is deadly to dogs is growing in Lake Paradise.

Across the U.S. dogs have died because of toxic poisoning from ingesting water with blue-green algae in it. Last year a thick layer of the algae covered Lake Paradise. This year it popped up again, but it’s not as prevalent. The city voted to spend $22,700 on equipment to clear it out.

No dogs were reported to have died because of the algae in the lake. They haven’t placed a no swimming order but, because it can be so harmful, the city wants to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.

Deborah Newberry lives along the lake where blue-green algae started to appear this summer. She says, “You move to a lake so you can take a boat out and go fishing and swimming. That’s what I want to do but I don’t want to do that now.”

Public Works Director Dean Barber dealt with it when it invaded Lake Paradise for the first time last year. He says, “It’s a particularly obnoxious algae that’s difficult to kill and control. It smells horrible. It’s very unpleasant.” Not only that, but it causes dogs’ livers to shut down.

Newberry won’t let her dog near the water. She says, “It is scary. We moved to the lake because we wanted to enjoy it not have to fear it.”

Blue-green algae grows quickly and it’s difficult to get rid of. Barber says, “You can’t treat it with normal chemicals like you would to kill any other form of unwanted plant growth. If you do it releases some harmful chemicals.”

Last year, the city let nature play its course to clear it out. This year, they’re taking a more proactive approach with technology. Barber says, “The unit that floats in the water is solar powered and emits sonic waves that disables the algae from floating and causes it to sink to the bottom where it can no longer get sunlight.”

Barber says this will be a test to see if the equipment can stop it from spreading. The experiment is a welcome relief for people who live at the lake. Newberry says, “It’s good to hear that they are because they didn’t do anything last year. I don’t even know if they could do anything last year, it was so think on the water.”

The city ordered three units. They don’t know when it will arrive, but as soon as that happens they’ll start clearing out the lake.

If the equipment works, the city says they will buy the three machines to use in the future. It’ll cost about $44,000 each.

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