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Algae Remains Issue As DNR Seeks Public Comment On Water Standards

Wisconsin DNR

State water experts are asking the public to comment on some revisions to existing water quality standards because of new information about levels of exposure to certain contaminants.

Every three years the DNR looks at water quality standards that address thingslike levels of toxic pollutants and algae toxins and also implementing water quality standards.

DNR Water Evaluation Chief Marcia Willhite says they gathered feedback on proposed rules earlier this year and they worked through the input and are back to see what the public thinks of the changes.

She outlines a key topic...

"...The top priority topic from the perspective of DNR folks is that we have lakes with harmful algal blooms and we don't currently have a standard for when there is too much cyanotoxin, algal toxins in the water, or even the blue-green algae that can produce the toxins...."

Blue-green algae is caused by too much phosphorus or nitrogen in the water. Not all algal blooms produce toxin.. Larger algal blooms have the potential for higher concentrations of toxin. Unfortunately, there is no immediate way to know if an algal bloom is dangerous or not.

Any actual changes to standards must be approved by the Natural Resources Board, the Wisconsin Legislature and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

A public hearing will be held on September 21 from 10 to 11 a.m. at the State Natural Resources Building in Madison. The public is invited to comment on the DNR website until October 5. Look for "triennial review".

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