The City of Airdrie has closed a popular off leash area to limit the exposure of pets to Blue Green Algae that's suspected to be in city storm ponds.

The Kings Heights Off Leash Area is closed because Blue Green Algae (Cyanobacteria) is thought to be in the water.  The city says algae is also suspected to be in the canals and other stormwater management facilities in the city.  

Airdrie Stormwater Technician Jill Curley says they noticed an algae bloom in the water at the Kings Heights Off Leash Area on Friday morning.  

"The risk to humans is fairly low but it's drinking the water that can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.  Because so many dogs run into the park, jump into the water and start drinking, especially when it's 25 degrees out, that was the rationale behind closing the dog park."

Algae blooms are natural and not uncommon in stormwater management facilities, lakes and ponds in summer months, especially with prolonged hot, dry weather.  Curley says conditions have been perfect in Airdrie for the algae to form.

"We've had sort of a perfect storm of conditions, it's been really hot, it's been really dry so we're seeing the ponds become breeding grounds for some of these algal species that usually just linger in the background.  Blue Green Algae start to bloom near the end of the summer and when there's a high phosphorous load.  Phosphorous is in all of our waterways and the higher the loading in comparison to the nitrgen loading the more we tend to see Blue Green Algae out compete some of the more benign forms of algae."

The effects of contact with Blue Green Algae can include skin irritation, red eyes and sore throat.  Consumption of the water can lead to headache, fever, diarrha, vomiting, cramps, muscle and joint pain, liver damage and even death.  

Residents of Airdrie are being asked to avoid any contact with water in all storm ponds.  The city will continue to monitor all water bodies for the occurence of algae blooms.  


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