Toxic Algae Shows Up In Pelican Lake

There’s nothing like jumping into a nice cool lake on a hot summer day, but state officials say nobody should be jumping into Pelican Lake near Watertown anytime soon…
Toxic blue-green algae have been spotted on the shoreline of the lake. 

“It puts off a predominant smell. I’d say rotten eggs is a pretty good description of that,” said Roger Foote, Pelican Lake resident.

Not only is it unpleasant to smell, but the algae can also be fatal to animals.

“This latest bloom was pretty much just like pea soup along the shoreline,” said Foote.

Foote first spotted the algae while he was out kayaking. As a coordinator for the Big Sioux River Watershed Project, Foote is an advocate for clean water practices. He quickly notified the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources about the algae bloom.

“This sort of thing tends to happen more in August, these types of blooms. It’s a bit unusual to see this happen in June this early,” said Andy Kopp, Dept. of Environmental and Natural Resources.

Kopp says these algae aren’t uncommon in South Dakota, but can cause problems for animals and humans.

“It can cause rashes, stomach and liver distress, and it can also cause neurological effects,” said Kopp.

There are some spots along the shoreline that look relatively untouched by the bacteria, but the more color people see in the water, the more cautious they need to be.

Kopp says dead birds have been washing ashore, and all beaches along the lake have been closed.

“Don’t go into that water that has a bloom on it, and don’t let your pets drink the water or go wading in the water that’s affected by an algae bloom,” said Kopp.

Kopp says the algae shouldn’t last more than a week or two, but the cause remains unknown.

“It could be the warm temperatures we’ve seen lately, and the fact that we’ve got quite a bit of precipitation around here lately, too,” said Kopp.

Until the water clears, it’s best to just stay out.

“It’s gross. You don’t want to go into it anyway,” said Foote.

Only a few types of blue green algae are toxic. A sample of the toxic algae found in Pelican Lake has been sent to a lab for testing to determine exactly what kind it is.



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