An algae bloom has hit a section of the Thames River in Chatham.
This is the second algae bloom seen on the Thames River in the Chatham area since a first noticeable bloom was seen in the late summer of 2017, said Jason Wintermute, water management specialist with the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority.
“We don’t really recall them prior to 2017 or maybe they just weren’t big enough that anyone noticed,” he said.
Wintermute said warm temperatures, algae-feeding nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen, and no significant rain events to flush it away were all factors in the formation of the bloom.
On Monday morning, conservation authority staff noticed the algae on a section of the Thames River, located by the authority’s Chatham office on Thames Street, he said.
“The proper protocol for an observed algae bloom is to call the Spills Action Centre,” said Wintermute, adding this was done.
He noted Lower Thames Valley staff took also some photos and water samples, and called the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks and the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research about the situation.
Wintermute said the worst of the algae bloom on the river was seen around the Highway 40-Communication Road area.
He added there was also a lot of the bloom visible from the Fifth Street Bridge to the Third Street Bridge and west to the Parry Bridge at Keil Drive. There was also some algae seen in the Kent Bridge and Thamesville areas, but not in Prairie Siding.
“It really is focused right here in the city,” Wintermute said.
As for concerns about public health, Wintermute said the risks were minimal.
“Generally, it’s perceived to be less of a public risk because there aren’t people taking drinking water from the river in the City of Chatham,” he said.
He added they were not expecting anyone to be swimming in the river.
The Chatham Daily News will be updating this story after interviewing experts from the Southwest regional tech support unit of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks and the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research at the University of Windsor.