(Communications N.S. Photo)

GRAND LAKE: While not confirmed, the province said on June 11 that blue-green algae is the suspected cause for contaminating Shubenacadie Grand Lake off Oakfield Park Road this week resulting in the hospitalization of a woman and deaths of two dogs.

In an update to the community, held at Grand Parade Square in Halifax, the Deputy Minister for the Department of Environment and Climate Change, Julie Towers, advised those in the area to avoid using lake water over the weekend.

The department said at the update, they’re investigating water quality after a complaint earlier this week about two dogs dying after being in contact with a substance on the lakeshore.

Rapid tests done on water samples from the lake on Thursday, June 10, were inconclusive.

However, based on visual evidence from the time the complaint about water quality was made, the incident is being treated as a blue-green algae bloom. Additional test results will be available Monday.

The Laker News asked NSE about what time did they become aware of the issue, leading to the Emergency Alert being issued on Wednesday night at 12:45 a.m.

“Our officer on duty received the notification approximately 10 p.m., Wednesday, June 9,” said Barron on June 11.

Currently, the department is only advising people on Shubenacadie Grand Lake to avoid using the water.

People on Shubenacadie Grand Lake who draw water from the lake should not drink, swim or bathe in, or otherwise use the water from the lake. Pets should not be allowed to swim in it or drink the water.

Starting today, June 11, the province, through the Emergency Management Office, is providing funding to Halifax Regional Municipality and the Municipality of East Hants to supply water to residents.

More information on where people can get water is available at https://www.halifax.ca/home/news and www.easthants.ca

Blue-green algae can appear at any time, particularly in warm water or water with a lot of nutrients, and blooms are appearing more frequently in Nova Scotia as a result of climate change and hotter weather in summer and fall. Typically, blue-green algae turn water a blue-green colour and the water would have a musty smell.

The algae can release toxins that make people and animals sick. Anyone who sees a blue-green algae bloom should contact one of the department’s regional offices.

It is not recommended that homeowners draw their water from rivers and lakes. Filtration and treatment systems only provide protection against bacteria in the water. They do not treat algae toxins, petroleum products, pesticides or other chemical contaminants.

Municipality of East Hants spokeswoman Jody MacArthur answered a query from The Laker News on how they could guarantee the water from the water utility was safe.

“Our water is treated and tested continuously,” she said.

She provided some more scientific info about the treatment process: https://www.easthants.ca/government/municipal-departments/infrastructure-operations/water-utility/water-treatment-process/

“Our staff are being hyper-vigilant especially right now to make sure our water is safe,” said MacArthur.

At this time, department staff have no reason to believe that properly constructed and regularly tested wells are affected.

Any homeowner who has questions about their well-water quality or well construction should have their well water tested or contact a certified well contractor to inspect their well.

Additional Resources:
Information on wells: https://novascotia.ca/nse/water/privatewells.asp and https://novascotia.ca/nse/water/wellcontractors.asp

Information on blue-green algae: https://novascotia.ca/nse/environmental-health/blue-green-algae.asp