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North Dakota Tourism

Bowman County Courthouse
104 1st St NW
Bowman, ND 58623

Blue-green Algae Identified in Bowman-Haley Reservoir

July 22, 2016

BISMARCK, ND - The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) and Agriculture (NDDA), Animal Health Division, have issued a blue-green algae warning for Bowman-Haley Reservoir, located near Bowman, due to high levels of microcystin in the water. Microcystin is a cyanotoxin caused by blue-green algae. When present in water, cyanotoxins are dangerous for both people and animals. Bowman-Haley Reservoir is a recreational area that is used for boating and swimming. Swimming or consuming water from the dam should be curtailed until further notice. Boating should be done with caution so water is not accidentally ingested.

The NDDoH was notified of the algae bloom earlier this week and confirmed the presence of the bloom and collected water samples on Wednesday, July 20. Water tests by the NDDoH revealed microcystin levels 15 times recommended safe levels.

The production of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, often happens in hot weather in bodies of water that are used by people, pets, and livestock. Exposure from ingesting affected water can cause illness in people and animals, and can result in death. There are no known antidotes for the toxins.

Blue-green algae discolor the water they live in, and can cause foam, scum, or mats to appear on the surface. People and animals that swallow water containing cyanotoxins can become sick with severe diarrhea and vomiting; numb lips, tingling fingers and toes; dizziness; or rashes, hives or skin blisters. Children are at higher risk than adults for illness because their smaller size can allow them to get a relatively larger dose of toxin.

Please take the following steps to avoid exposure to cyanotoxins:
• Respect any advisories announced by public health authorities. If you see posted signs or hear messages to stay out of a certain body of water, respect the warning.
• Do not swim, water ski, or boat in areas where the water is discolored or where you see foam, scum, or mats of green or blue-green algae on the water.
• If you accidentally swim in water that might have a cyanobacteria bloom, rinse off with fresh water as soon as possible.
• Do not let pets or livestock swim in or drink from areas where the water is discolored, or where you see foam, scum or mats of algae on the water.
• If pets (especially dogs) swim in scummy water, rinse them off immediately – do not let them lick the algae (and toxins) off their fur.
• Don’t irrigate lawns or golf courses with pond water that looks scummy or smells bad.

For more information on public health issues, contact Mike Ell, North Dakota Department of Health, at 701.220.5025. For specific questions concerning Bowman-Haley Reservoir, contact Dean Pearson, Emergency Manager, at 701.523.3129 or 701-440-0708.