(WXYZ) — The state has launched a new interactive map to help Michiganders track harmful algal blooms in bodies of water.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) teamed up with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to develop the map. The MDHHS announced the new tool on Monday and is reminding the public of the potential harm these blooms can pose to people and animals.
“The new Michigan Harmful Algal Bloom Reports map is an exciting tool to increase awareness of HABs and to help prevent related illness,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive, in a press release. “If you may have had contact with or swallowed water with a HAB and feel sick, call your doctor or Poison Control at 800-222-1222. If symptoms are severe, get emergency medical attention as soon as possible.”
According to the MDHHS, HABs form when there’s a rapid growth of cyanobacteria, which are found in lakes, rivers and ponds.
The map will reportedly be updated weekly from June to Novemeber. MDDHS cautions that not all HABs in the state are reported and may not be on the map. The HABs can also reportedly move around, disappear and reappear.
HABs, the MDHHS says, look like scum or mats in the water — think spilled paint or pea soup or streaks on the water surface.
In 2021, the MDHHS states 79 harmful algal blooms in 43 counties were reported to EGLE.
You can report a suspected HAB to EGLE by emailing AlgaeBloom@Michigan.gov with pictures or by calling 800-662-9278.
The MDDHS notes some ways Michiganders can help prevent HABs:
- Use phosphate-free detergents.
- Dispose of pet waste properly.
- Apply fertilizer only when necessary, at the recommended amount. A buffer should be left when applying fertilizer near a lake or stream.
- Promote the use of natural shoreline, including growing native vegetation along the water’s edge.
- Join with a local organization or residents to develop or update a watershed management plan, which identifies pollutants causing water quality problems, sources of those pollutants and recommendations to reduce pollutant inputs.