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Algae Blooms

posted May 11, 2015, 7:16 PM by Mason Benson Center

Due to the mild winter and warmer weather, we are getting reports already of algae blooms in the lake.  Add to that, spring yard work has begun and fertilizing the grass and plants, chemicals that feed the algae, is normally on our minds.  I’ve attached a couple of web sites (sorry if I’m repeating things from a couple of years ago) that speak to the cause and effects of algae in our fresh water lakes.


As a rule, the county does routine testing of beaches and lakes for toxins and bacteria, but is limited by their budget. If you have concerns regarding an algae bloom, you can contact the Mason County Public Health Department, and hopefully, with their limited staff and testing budget, they may be able to come test for toxin levels.  Their only option, if found toxic, is to post “No Swimming” warning signs in the county public areas.

For clarification, the milfoil committee is tasked with treatment of noxious weeds, not water quality.  Water quality is a function of the county and state, thus the routine testing.   As stated, if the toxin levels do reach a non-safe level, the County will post warnings at the lake and online.  As a member of the committee, I will be happy to share information regarding water quality that is received by Mason County or the State.

In the past I have had emails wanting to know why the milfoil committee isn’t doing anything to “treat” the algae.  For starters, the algae bloom in the lake is a condition of increased nitrogen, phosphates and other nutrients from runoff and or poorly maintained septic systems, and is not something you treat, but something you work to prevent.  As we have continued to stress and tell everyone in the past, nitrogen and phosphates are normally found in fertilizers, and phosphates can be found in laundry detergents.  First and foremost, make sure you have a functioning septic system.  There are numerous businesses in Mason County that can test your system to make sure it is working properly.  Secondly, look for natural fertilizers that are free of phosphates and nitrogen, as well as laundry detergents that are phosphate free.  Mason County Public Health Department also has online brochures called “Living on the Water” and “Lake Friendly Landscaping” that have helpful ideas to limit the nutrient runoff that feeds the algae. 

Colby Swanson

Mason Lake Milfoil Committee