Bluegreen algae is a type of bacteria (cyanobacteria) that grows in still waters, mostly in lakes, ponds and wetlands. It can also be found in the backwaters of streams during dry periods when flows are low. Bluegreen algae thrives when the water is warm and enriched with nutrients (phosphorous and nitrogen), which are plentiful in urban waters. When environmental conditions are right, algae can grow quickly. Blooms become visible when they accumulate on the water surface and form algae slicks, often appearing as green paint.
Bluegreen algae can produce several toxins that can make people, pets and other animals sick. People can experience skin rashes and lesions when skin contacts the algae. Ingesting water can cause vomiting, diarrhea or liver failure in extreme cases. Animals that ingest the water can also experience these symptoms.
If you or a pet come in contact with bluegreen algae, the algae should be washed off the skin or animal's coat thoroughly. If symptoms are being experienced, contact your physician or veterinarian immediately.
Please contact the Environmental Quality Division with questions or concerns on bluegreen algae. The Environmental Quality Division can be reached by calling 311 (or 720-913-1311 from a mobile phone)