Woods Creek Lake closed due to potentially toxic algae

  • A temporary sign warns of "high bacteria levels" in Woods Creek Lake in Lake in the Hills on Friday. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency confirmed Thursday the lake has a blue-green algae bloom that could be toxic.

      A temporary sign warns of "high bacteria levels" in Woods Creek Lake in Lake in the Hills on Friday. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency confirmed Thursday the lake has a blue-green algae bloom that could be toxic. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Blue-green algae gathers at the shore and clings to wire fencing on Woods Creek Lake in Lake in the Hills on Friday. Village officials say the lake is off limits for recreational activity until further notice.

      Blue-green algae gathers at the shore and clings to wire fencing on Woods Creek Lake in Lake in the Hills on Friday. Village officials say the lake is off limits for recreational activity until further notice. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Lake in the Hills is advising residents to stop all recreational activity on Woods Creek Lake, including swimming, fishing and boating due to the confirmed presence of blue-green algae bloom. Officials continue to monitor Woods Creek Lake conditions and will inform residents when water conditions improve.

    Lake in the Hills is advising residents to stop all recreational activity on Woods Creek Lake, including swimming, fishing and boating due to the confirmed presence of blue-green algae bloom. Officials continue to monitor Woods Creek Lake conditions and will inform residents when water conditions improve. Courtesy of Village of Lake in the Hills

 
 
Updated 6/21/2019 4:06 PM

Lake in the Hills village officials are advising residents to refrain from all recreational activity on Woods Creek Lake, including swimming, fishing and boating, until further notice due to the confirmed presence of potentially toxic blue-green algae bloom.

When blooming, blue-green algae can be mildly toxic to humans. Contact may result in a rash, mild nausea, or allergic reactions. Blooming blue-green algae can also be toxic to animals so officials recommend keeping pets from drinking from and entering Woods Creek Lake, according to a message on the village website.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

On Wednesday morning, the McHenry County Department of Health ordered the closing of Indian Trail Beach due to high bacteria levels. That afternoon, village public works employees identified what was believed to be blue-green algae in Woods Creek Lake near the inlet at the Crystal Lake Road bridge. They took photos for Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) review and collected water samples for independent testing.

Both beaches were preemptively closed and officials recommended refraining from recreational activities on the lake. The IEPA visually confirmed the blue-green algae bloom Thursday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health this month said conditions were favorable for the growth of this type of bacteria across all bodies of water in the state.

The naturally occurring bacterial growth could not be prevented nor can anything be done to treat its presence, officials said.

Additional tests are being conducted to determine the stage of the bloom to estimate how long it may be present on the lake.

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Officials continue to monitor Woods Creek Lake conditions and will inform residents when water conditions improve for recreational use.

Blue-green algae reproduces quickly in warm, shallow, undisturbed surface water that receives a lot of sunlight. This rapid growth is referred to as a "bloom." Most blue-green algal blooms are not harmful, but blooms that produce toxins can be, according to the IEPA.

The most common symptom from exposure to algal toxins is skin irritation with onset occurring after direct contact with the water. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, throat irritation, allergic reactions, or difficulty breathing.

For more information on Woods Creek Lake conditions, contact Guy Fehrman at (847) 960-7507 or use the Contact Us form on the village website. For information about blue-green algae visit the IEPA website, illinois.gov/epa.

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