Mississinewa Lake is under an advisory for blue-green algae. This means that swimming and boating is still permitted but visitors should avoid direct contact with algae.
Visitors should, as always, avoid drinking the water and take a shower after they swim. The state also recommends at this advisory level to keep pets out of the water or, at minimum, keep them from drinking the water, and bathe them after swimming.
Mississinewa is currently the only lake in the state under any form of algae alert. An advisory is the lowest alert level. Depending on algae levels, the state also can issue a caution (which means that children and adults with compromised immune systems should avoid swimming), or close a beach.
Blue-green algae blooms are a seasonal occurrence in some Indiana waters, fueled by heat, sunlight and fertilizer runoff from lawns and farms. Some blue-green algae produce toxins that can cause rashes, skin and eye irritation, nausea, stomachaches, and tingling fingers and toes.
Indianaâ€™s lakes remain excellent resources for outdoor recreation, and the state is taking measures to keep the public informed about any algae risks at beaches.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management tests 14 beaches at 12 Indiana lakes on a monthly basis for blue-green algae during summer. In the Indianapolis area, Citizens Water does weekly tests of Eagle Creek, Morse and Geist reservoirs, which are not DNR properties.
If high levels of algae or toxins are documented during testing, a notice is posted at algae.IN.gov and alert notices are placed on blue-green algae signs at those beaches until algae cell counts return to safe levels.
The public can also look for â€śProperty Advisoriesâ€ť on each state park or reservoirâ€™s website through stateparks.IN.gov. Notifications for affected properties also are provided at camp.IN.gov. A document answering frequently asked questions about algae is at dnr.IN.gov/parklake/files/sp-BlueGreenAlgae.pdf.
Because Mississinewa is under an advisory, it will be tested bi-weekly until algae levels drop. The next test is June 30.
Blue-green algae is most often found in shallow water or coves and bays where water movement is limited, but it can be found in open water as well.
Dogs and other animals are particularly vulnerable to blue-green algae because they may drink the contaminated water or swallow the algae as they clean their coats.
Two years ago, two dogs died after swimming in a cove at Salamonie Lake. Symptoms and circumstances suggested blue-green algae was the cause. Old news reports about the dogs and about high levels of blue-green algae at beaches from previous years have circulated in recent days on social media. When these posts appear in your newsfeed, check the dates and visit algae.IN.gov or stateparks.IN.gov or contact the property to confirm before sharing inaccurate information.
Salamonie has not tested positive this year for high levels of blue-green algae. Nonetheless, pet owners should be appropriately cautious.
For additional information about pets, farm animals and blue-green algae go to IN.gov/boah/2617.htm.