Dear Editor: Madison is expected to experience an above normal year for algae outbreaks, and as the summer comes to an end, toxic algal outbreaks pose a constant threat to Wisconsinites. While our 21 beaches and lake access points are being monitored by the Madison and Dane County Public Health Department, the issue is likely to worsen. Outbreaks are occurring earlier each year and solutions to this public health and economic threat remain nowhere to be found.
Algae blooms, also known as cyanobacteria, produce carcinogenic toxins that can be harmful if absorbed through the skin, inhaled, or swallowed — a danger for many families who frequent beaches like Memorial Union and Warner Park. These poisonous outbreaks have widespread consequences for public health, the environment and local economies.
Algae is something that everyone in Madison notices. It smells bad, it looks bad and it makes you not want to jump into the water. But I'm especially concerned about what we don't immediately see and smell: the long-term health impacts from exposure to toxic algae.
Communities do not have the resources to upgrade their water infrastructure to guard against these dangerous algal outbreaks, putting our health, environment and local economy in jeopardy. We need our state elected officials and Congress to support more investments in real solutions that will reduce the agricultural runoff that invades our waterways and get at the root of these harmful toxic algal outbreaks.
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