As the temperatures continue to climb, many of us will visit our favorite lake to stay cool during the summer months.

But keep in mind when recreating Montana's water bodies, stay on the lookout for blooms.

CrazyBlue algae
Montana Department Of Health and Human Services

Harmful Algal Blooms

You may think that harmful angle blooms are just normal algae, but they actually can release toxins and cause harm to both humans and animals.

On occasion, the algae can release harmful toxins into the water that may cause skin irritation, sickness, and, in some cases, even kill pets or livestock if ingested.

Medicine Lake algae
Montana Department of health and human services

How To Identify Harmful Algal Blooms

  • The alga blooms can almost look like spilled paint, soup, or even grass clippings.
  • They are often blue, green, or red in color.

What Causes Harmful Algal Blooms

Harmful algal blooms occur when water conditions have high nutrient levels, sunlight, and temperature exposure.

These elements cause a rapid growth of an algae called cyanobacteria or Blue-green algae.

This algae is a native organism and commonly occurs at low, safe densities in Montana’s lakes, streams, and reservoirs.

Blue Paint algae
Montana Department of health and human services

How To Report Algal Blooms

If you suspect a HAB, submit a report to

Some nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus, can actually help fuel algae growth.

Actions you can take to reduce nutrient pollution:

  • Reduce your use of lawn or crop fertilizers.
  • Landscape with native plants that don’t need fertilizers.
  • If you live alongside a stream or lake, restore and protect native woody vegetation, plants, and grasses. They help filter pollution and stabilize the land.
  • If your home relies on a septic system, do you regularly service it and consider upgrading to a higher-level treatment system?

Read Next:Algae Bloom Reported In The Missouri River in Great Falls

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