Scientists are studying the algae cultures found in Lake Olmstead.
Professors at Augusta University got a sample to identify the organisms that are currently living in the lake to find out how harmful it can be.
It’s called Cyanobacteria, or Blue Green Algae. It’s the kind of algae that has potential to produce toxins.
You can see this algae just by taking a water sample, or if they are even blooming on the surface.
Augusta University Professors found at least three organisms living in the algae that could be harmful.
Biological Sciences Lecturer, Faith Wiley, says, “Oscillatoria was present, anombema, and Microcystis.”
Swimming or letting your pet play at Lake Olmstead might be crossed off your to-do list for a while now that potentially dangerous bacterial organisms are living in the water.
“So, we know that the organisms are present, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that toxins are there. It means that they could be there,” says Wiley.
If these organisms do carry toxins, they can cause skin irritation.
“The main concerns in terms of more serious effects are going to be associated with ingestion because some of the toxins can cause neuro-toxicity or they can effect the liver potentially,” says Wiley.
As long as the blooms are present they can carry toxins, whether it be now or in the near future.
“They have been getting larger nationwide or probably globally, there has been some increase in the number of blooms and the severity of blooms potentially associated with warming temperatures and higher nutrient loads as well, so fertilizer runoff, pet waste runoff, anything that has nutrients in it that is going into the lake could make it worse,” says Wiley.
Since these organisms like warm temperatures, there is no telling when they will die out.
“It could be there for several weeks up to a couple of months. It just depends on the weather. It depends on how long the warm temperatures last which we know here in Augusta tends to stay warm for quite a while,” says Wiley.
She says the only way to keep up with the algae is to monitor it. She says DNR does toxin testing to see if the organisms are harmful.
Cold temperatures can kill these organisms.