By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO — Despite recent rain, much of the state has been dry most of the summer.

The ground is especially in the central and northern parts of the state. It shows not only on front lawns, but also on lakes. Chris Walter of Sauk Rapids says it’s “pretty gross.”

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“It’s thick, it can get caught on your hook easily,” Walter said.

Whether you happen to be casting a line or kayaking, the algae on some lakes and rivers this summer is like a greenish gruel.

Algae blooms are more widespread, and Eric Altena of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says a lack of rainfall is to blame. Rain brings nitrogen to lakes, which balances out the phosphorous. Without that nitrogen the muck spreads, especially in shallow lakes.

“That drought cycle has definitely impacted many lakes, not just your poor-quality ones, but the higher-quality ones as well,” Altena said.

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The green algae, though unsavory, isn’t really a health concern — but the same conditions can also create blue-green algae.

“Systems like Sauk Lake in Sauk Centre, we’ve had a call or two on some blue-green blooms that have occurred,” Altena said. “It washes up on shore, looks kind of a blue-green, and not like teal. It washes up on shore, and it’s something that, you know, dogs can certainly get sick from. And we don’t recommend people ingest it or swim in the stuff.”

Years ago on Little Rock Lake, Altena said the blue-green algae got so bad it turned into a paste on the surface. They drew the lake down last year and planted 45,000 emergent plants, which is helping. But for the future to become more clear, they’ll need a little help.

“As much as we like to try and control our little piece of the puzzle, ultimately it depends on the rainfall, and the weather, and the temperature, and the seasonal changes and stuff that Mother Nature brings around,” Altena said.

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The DNR said some parts of the Mississippi River are as low right now as they were in 1988, which was a bad year for drought.

John Lauritsen