Algae study brings U of M researchers to Ramsey Lake

By Brenda Erdahl

Boaters out on Ramsey Lake may find themselves speculating on the appearance of a strange device floating among the waves and algae this summer.

Fitted with what looks like a solar panel, weather vane, and a large box it may look awkward and out of place, but it has a very important job.

The contraption was anchored on Thursday, May 17, by the University of Minnesota algae research group from the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory and is an integral part of a study to investigate what conditions trigger algal booms in lakes, in particular blue green algae.

According to a press release from the U of M, algal blooms can turn the water green and smelly, contribute to fish kills, and at times produce toxins that pose a health risk to people and animals.

“It’s that green matt of stinky algae, but it’s unclear what triggers it from being distributed in the water to floating to the surface in a matt,” said Chris Ellis, the senior research associate for the project.

Ramsey Lake was chosen as one of three Minnesota lakes to be studied as a part of a project funded by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources with the hope of learning how to detect, predict, and prevent blue green algal blooms in Minnesota lakes.

According to Ramsey Lake Association President Scott Dumphy, the presence of U of M scientists is in no way linked to the sewer leak that affected parts of the lake last winter. Rather, Ramsey Lake was chosen for several unrelated reasons.

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