Usually in the Fall it’s just the leaves changing color, but along the shoreline of Lake Winnebago, the sights and smells have been transformed by an outbreak of blue-green algae.
“We haven’t had it this bad in many, many years,” Richard McKenny of Menasha, a lifelong resident of the lakeshore told Local 5.
McKenny says the bloom began a few weeks ago.
“About the middle of August, the algae started to build, and it’s just been getting continuously worse,” he said.
Ted Johnson, a Water Resources Specialist with the DNR, told Local 5 that the stars aligned for this kind of an algae outbreak.
“It was just the perfect year for it,” he said. “We had a fairly wet spring, a lot of runoff from the landscape, there’s many variables.”
Johnson added that introducing more aquatic plants into the lakes system could help prevent algae blooms in the future, as an abundance of phosphorus and other nutrients in the water causes algae to grow.
If plants are using those nutrients, algae will be given less opportunity to develop.
Although there are potential future solutions, all residents along Lake Winnebago can do for now is wait for the algae to die off.
“Nobody has been near the water in the last couple of weeks,” McKenny said. “Generally we try to get the dock out at the end of September, before it gets too cold, but we’re going to have to wait until October this year, because nobody’s going to go into the water to take it out like this.”