Greenfield Lake experiencing dangerous blue-green algae bloom

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(Photo: City of Wilmington)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — You may have noticed Greenfield Lake is looking extra green these days — that’s because it is currently experiencing a blue-green algae cyanobacterial bloom.

Cyanobacterium is a blue green alga that is dangerous to humans and animals.

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This particular bloom has three different species of Microcystis – a neurotoxin. Swimming in it can cause irritation such as skin rashes, burns, and blistering of the mouth. Ingestion or inhalation of water containing dense bloom material may cause vomiting, nausea, headaches, diarrhea, pneumonia, and fever.

While no deaths from ingestion of microcystins have been reported in humans, dogs, wildlife, and livestock have died following exposure to this toxin.

Microcystis blooms typically thrive in warm, turbid, and slow-moving waters. The blooms with the highest biomass occur in waters that are high in nitrogen or phosphorus and require sufficient light intensity to conduct photosynthesis.

Greenfield Lake sediment and the storm water runoff it receives contains high nutrient loads, which causes the algae blooms in direct sunlight.

Caution signs are being designed and will be installed as soon as possible in key access locations at the lake. The City of Wilmington is also working with UNCW and NC State University on research and pilot projects.

They also have other watershed planning activities and storm water treatment retrofits in the works to reduce the nutrient loads into Greenfield Lake. Additionally, Stormwater Services is working on a more comprehensive plan to address high nutrient loading into the lake.

The city says this will take some time, but it is under initial development.