On Advice of EPA, Wonder Lake Closed on Last Weekend of Summer – Labor Day Weekend

No jet skis on Wonder Lake this Labor Day Weekend.

Dick Hilton

An email to Wonder Lake residents  from Wonder Lake Master Property Owners Association President Dick Hilton:about the closure of Wonder Lake for Labor Day Weekend:


On advice of IL EPA


No power boats like this Master Craft allowed on Wonder Lake Labor Day Weekend, 2012.

Wonder Lake will be closed to ALL boating, water skiing, swimming & fishing until further notice.

Below is information received this afternoon from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency:

Subject: High Concentrations of Algal Toxins Found in Northern Illinois – Caution Should be Taken

Will the Wonder Lake Police give a ticket to this power boat driver if he takes it out on Labor Day Weekend?


In the last couple of weeks, there have been a number of northern tier lakes that have been found to have the algal toxin “microcystin” in concentrations three orders of magnitude above the 20 ppb World Health Organization (WHO) guideline for recreational waters (e.g., above 20 ppb there is a high probability of adverse health effects).

Once found, IEPA and USGS conducted follow-up monitoring this past Wednesday and Thursday at ~8-10 sites (lakes and streams), again primarily in Northern Illinois. Results will not be available for the next few weeks.

My immediate need/desire to share this information with you is we desperately want to get the word out, today if possible, BEFORE the Labor Day Holiday weekend, that these conditions exist and the public should be cautioned not to use their favorite water resource if excessive algae is apparent, discolored scums are present, etc.

No cooling off in a boat on Wonder Lake on the 2012 Labor Day Weekend.

Late yesterday afternoon the attached IEPA Fact Sheet was developed, primarily fashioned after a fact sheet developed by the Iowa Department of Public Health. It talks about both blue green algae and algal toxins.

No fishing is recommended by the Illinois EPA on Labor Day Weekend.

My recommendation to you?

Please distribute the following paragraph (or tweak/fashion as you see fit) and attached fact sheet to your membership ASAP.

Our and your goal obviously is not to “scare,” but to caution citizen and animal use of any water resource that exhibits nasty blue-green algae conditions. A picture is attached if you would like to use it with your distribution.

“A new fact sheet about blue green algae and the health risks to people and animals from exposure to algal toxins is now available.

“Weather patterns this summer have caused an increase in blue green algae and elevated toxin levels in some Illinois waterbodies.

“People should avoid contact with water that is discolored (heavy green, blue-green, yellow, brown, or red) or has algal scum on the surface and restrict the access of their pets and livestock to this water. This includes swimming, water skiing, tubing, and boating.”

Thanks so much to you quick attention to this matter.

Gregg Good, Manager
Surface Water Section, Bureau of Water
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency

The following fact sheet was developed by the Iowa Department of Pubic Health:



This photo of blue green algae was provided by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.


Blue-green algae are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams. Some blue-green algae can produce algal toxins that could pose a health risk to people and animals when they are exposed to them in large enough quantities. This fact sheet answers questions about blue-green algae and algal toxins.

What are blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams. They are usually present in low numbers. However, blue-green algae can grow quickly and become very abundant in warm, shallow, undisturbed surface waters that receive a lot of sunlight. When this occurs, they can form blooms that discolor the water or produce floating rafts or scums on the surface of the water. These blooms are primarily a concern during the summer months in Illinois.

Are blue-green algae or algal toxins harmful to my health?

Some blue-green algae produce algal toxins (e.g., microcystin, cylindrospermopsin, anatoxin, saxatoxin; the most common is microcystin) that could pose a health risk to people and animals when exposed to them in large enough quantities. Health effects could occur when surface scums or waters containing high levels of blue-green algae toxins are swallowed, come in contact with skin, or when airborne droplets containing toxins are inhaled while swimming, boating, water skiing, tubing, bathing or showering.

Recreational contact such as swimming and household contact such as bathing or showering with water not visibly affected by a blue – green algae bloom is not expected to cause health effects.


Another Illinois EPA photo of blue green algae. Note how it looks like paint.

How do I know if I am being exposed to blue-green algae?

People should suspect that blue-green algae are present in water that is visibly discolored or that has surface scums. Colors can include shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown, or red. Water affected by blue-green algae blooms often is so strongly colored that it can develop a paint-like appearance (see photos below).

The presence of toxins from algae can only be verified through laboratory analysis. Unpleasant tastes or odors are not reliable indicators of blue-green algae toxins or other toxic substances, because the algae may or may not also produce chemicals that affect the taste or odor of drinking water. Similarly, the absence of unpleasant tastes and odors does not guarantee the absence of blue-green algal toxins.

Can you get sick from blue-green algal toxins?

None of this on Wonder Lake on Labor Day Weekend.

People can get sick from blue-green algal toxins if they have direct contact with a blue green algae bloom, by either intentionally or accidentally swallowing water, by having direct skin contact (as when swimming, wading, or showering), or by breathing airborne droplets containing the toxins, such as during boating or water skiing.

People should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has scum on the surface and restrict the access of their pets and livestock to this water. Pets can get sick if they have been swimming in water where algal blooms have been and ingest significant amounts of toxins by licking themselves after leaving the water.

Are children more vulnerable than adults to blue-green algal toxins?

Yes. Because of their comparatively low body weight, it takes fewer toxins to make children sick from exposure to blue green algae. In addition, children tend to have more sensitive skin than adults, so a skin rash or reaction is more likely. Children should always be supervised when swimming in any body of water.

Can I eat fish caught in water with high amounts of blue-green algae or algal toxins?

No sailboats will be allowed on Wonder Lake Labor Day Weekend, 2012.

Toxins from algae can accumulate in the entrails (guts) of fish and occasionally in the muscle (filet) of fish. Levels in fish depend upon the severity of the bloom in the area where the fish are caught. In general, fish that are caught in areas of a waterbody where major blue-green algae blooms occur may be safe to eat, as long as the entrails of the fish are discarded. However, there is some uncertainty about the levels of algal toxins that can accumulate in filets, so anglers may want to wait until algal blooms are over before eating fish from waters where a bloom is occurring. Care should be taken that animals are not fed or allowed to eat the entrails of these fish.

How can I stop or reduce exposures to blue-green algae or algal toxins?

Never drink untreated surface water, whether or not algae blooms are present. Water from lakes, rivers, or streams may contain other bacteria, parasites or viruses, as well as algae toxins, that all could cause illness if consumed.

No water skiing allowed on Wonder Lake on Labor Day Weekend.

People should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has scum on the surface and restrict the access of their pets and livestock to this water. This includes swimming, water skiing, tubing, boating, etc. If contact does occur, wash with soap and water or rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove algae. This is especially important for pets (dogs) because they may lick the algae off their fur to clean themselves.

This climbing Wonder Lake dog is about to do exactly what the EPA thinks should not be done.

Seek medical attention if symptoms such as skin, eye or throat irritation, allergic reactions, or breathing difficulties occur while in contact with untreated surface water. These symptoms are unusual, but may occur in sensitive individuals due to exposure to low levels of blue-green algae.


On Advice of EPA, Wonder Lake Closed on Last Weekend of Summer – Labor Day Weekend — 7 Comments

  1. This is exactly why we need to get rid of the EPA.

    Who’s the government to tell me I can’t swim in a lake if I want to?

    And where’s the science behind this?

  2. Is Purdue University a trusted source?


    “Toxicity among bluegreens in general is well known and characterized. The
    toxins have been known to kill cattle and other animals that drink infested waters. Most of the toxicity is associated with the planktonic species, and particularly with Anabaena, Aphanizomenon, and Microcystis.”

    You really do not want to swim in this stuff Ed. It can be lethal. I do not like the EPA either but the science behind this is solid.

    Andrew Gasser

  3. A few years ago several people died near Phoenix AZ of this toxin while swiming and boating there.

    Lake Pleasant is over 10,000 acres and was restricted due to the high levels of this toxin.

    Wonder Puddle is what, 150 acres and shallow.

    What about the Fox River?

  4. Crystal Lake is about 220 acres when full, so Wonder Lake is larger.

  5. How can anyone doubt there is science behind an EPA advisory?

    They are explaining the whole thing in this blog.

    You can swim in the lake if you are dumb enough not to heed such a serious warning!

    You’ll probably get fined for your own good if you are caught though.

    If you are lucky, you may even get to live through the toxicity of the chemicals released by these algae, were you to come in contact with them.

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