Possible blue-green algae could shut down Pewaukee beach and affect festivals

Posted at 3:50 PM, Jun 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-22 20:30:19-04

A possible outbreak of blue-green algae has shut down the beach in Pewaukee, just before a major festival is set to be held there this weekend.

The Pewaukee Parks and Recreation Department says they are still waiting for test results to confirm if it actually is blue-green algae, and the beach is shut down as a precaution.

Visitors to the Pewaukee Lake Beach area definitely noticed the water looking a little different on Thursday.

"The color of the water is a slight bit changed," said Eric Knight, who comes to the pier several times a week to fish.

He says he isn't too concerned about the possible algae.

"I'm looking for the little bluegills out here," he said. "Sometimes they're on vacation, usually I catch those guys."

According to the Pewaukee Parks and Rec Department, staff noticed algae blooms near the fishing pier that appeared to be moving toward the beach.

The Wisconsin DNR says blue-green algae can cause symptoms like skin rashes, stomach cramps, vomiting and fevers. It can also cause similar symptoms in pets.

The city put up barriers along the beach to keep people from the water until test results come back.

"The most important thing for us is the safety of our skiers," said Phil Shepet, the president of the Pewaukee Lake Water Ski Club.

He says they had to cancel their ski show Thursday night because of the concern.

They are also preparing for the annual Lake Country Clean Water Festival this weekend, and may have to cancel the ski lessons and ski show if tests confirm the presence of blue-green algae.

"There's a possibility we could do a land demonstration, show people how we build pyramids and that sort of thing," he said. "It's pretty cool even if we can't ski."

The Clean Water Festival runs alongside the annual Pewaukee Kiwanis Beach Party but organizers there say the beach closure won't affect them since the party mainly takes place in the street.

"Even though you can't go in the water on Saturday, we have a lot of great things going on," Shepet said. "I encourage people to come to the education tent, to participate in the activities."

The city says the beach will remain closed Thursday and test results should come back by Friday. At that point, they will determine if the beach needs to stay closed over the weekend.

For updates on the beach closure, visit the Pewaukee Parks and Rec Facebook page

For updates on the Clean Water Festival, visit the Pewaukee Lake Water Ski Club Facebook page.