WINDSOR, Colo. - On Thursday, July 6 the Town of Windsor has closed access to Windsor Lake until further notice. A precautionary water sample was taken from the lake to test for cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, and samples have now been sent to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) for comprehensive testing.
Out of an abundance of caution recreational activities will not be available at Windsor Lake until further notice. Annual motorized permit holders are allowed on the lake at this time; however, water activities such as tubing and water skiing are not allowed. Non-motorized boaters can use their permits at their own risk, however, for health and safety precautions, staying out of the water is highly recommended.
“Our team took precautions and issued an advisory to our community in addition to publishing messages across our communication platforms,” says Tara Fotsch, Deputy Director of Parks, Recreation & Culture. “With the results presumably returning positive for blue-green algae, staff will close access to the swim areas at the lake and are actively working to keep our community aware.”
This algae bloom has come earlier in the year than previous blooms in Windsor Lake. This is due in part to the historic rain that the Town of Windsor has experienced in the May and June months. Windsor continues to take new precautions and collect data to fight blue-green algae blooms in the future.
Several initiatives that the Town of Windsor is taking to battle blue-green algae includes supplementary sampling, point source mapping, EutroSORB – a product designed to absorb excess phosphorus from moving water – and the Eastman Park Pond floating islands pilot program. The program consists of islands made from recycled material and injected with foam to stay afloat. Each island has a total of 48 holes, each filled with native grasses and plants. When the roots trail down in the water below, they will uptake the excess nutrients that cause blue-green algae. If this program is successful, it will be adopted in other local bodies of water.
What is Harmful Algae?
Blue-Green algae are a type of bacteria that are common in lakes throughout Colorado. The algae multiply rapidly—and are impacted by a combination of unusually sustained hot weather, stagnant water and stormwater runoff that includes nutrient loading from fertilizers, grass clippings and other pollutants—to form blooms and scums.
What Contributes to Blue-Green Algae Growth?
Polluted stormwater runoff can have adverse effects on plants, fish, animals and people. Too much nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus in the water is known as nutrient loading and can cause algae to grow faster than ecosystems can handle. Significant increases in algae harm water quality, food resources and decrease the oxygen aquatic life. Add sustained hot temperatures and conditions exist for this type of algae to thrive.
While permit holders are advised to boat at their own risk, visitors can still enjoy the Dr. Tom Jones Trail, a 2.5 mile trail around Windsor Lake, the volleyball court, catch and release fishing, the playground, Boardwalk Park Museum, and the park in general. Additional swim options include Chimney Park Pool and the Eastman Park River Experience. For hours of operation and information about events happening in Windsor, visit recreationliveshere.com.
The Town of Windsor will continue working with the CDPHE and closely monitor the bacteria levels.