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'We've had the windows closed for a couple weeks': Harmful algal bloom in Menasha gives off stinky smell

Posted at 11:17 PM, Oct 06, 2023
  • Menasha residents are telling NBC 26 they're keeping their windows closed because of an algae bloom
  • The Wisconsin DNR said there is an ongoing harmful algal bloom on the Fox River in Menasha
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says these blooms can produce toxins and be harmful to people, pets, and ecosystems
  • When the algae bloom gets this bad, the water will have a variety of different colors on the surface including green, blue, brown, and red
  • The video above shows a DNR expert explaining why it smells so bad in the neighborhood

MENASHA (NBC 26) — Menasha residents are telling NBC 26 they're keeping their windows closed because of an algae bloom.

If you live in town near the Fox River, you might get a whiff of what Nick Malcore is describing by going outside.

"It smells like dog poop that's sitting in the sun for a while," Menasha resident Nick Malcore said. "It's one of those things where we've had the windows closed for a couple weeks now. Thankfully, nothing's gotten in yet."

Malcore lives right by the Menasha Lock on Broad Street.

"The minute you walk out the door, it kind of hits you," Malcore said.

"What that tells me is that the blooms are starting to decompose," Gina LaLiberte of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said.

The DNR said there is an ongoing harmful algal bloom on the Fox River in Menasha.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says these blooms can produce toxins and be harmful to people, pets, and ecosystems.

"Trust your gut. If the water looks weird, then that's something that your pets shouldn't be in contact with," LaLiberte said.

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The Wisconsin DNR said there is an ongoing harmful algal bloom on the Fox River in Menasha. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says these blooms can produce toxins and be harmful to people, pets, and ecosystems.

When the algae bloom gets this bad, the water will have a variety of different colors on the surface including green, blue, brown, and red.

"Any unusually colored water, be suspicious that it might be blue-green algae," LaLiberte said.

LaLiberte, the DNR's harmful algal bloom coordinator, said for the last couple weeks, the winds have been blowing mostly from the south and east at low speeds.

She said the low-speed winds made blue-green algae concentrate at the exit of Lake Winnebago and move into the river.

In addition, LaLiberte said the Menasha Lock has been closed to prevent the spread of round goby fish — an invasive species — from going into the lake.

"By closing the lock, there's probably reduced flow through that system," LaLiberte said. "And that allows for stagnant conditions."

LaLiberte said Lake Winnebago and the Fox River are part of a project to reduce phosphorus and other nutrients from going into the waters.

She said phosphorus fertilizes plants and algae allowing them to grow.

"Reducing the amount of phosphorus coming in will eventually result in less algae," LaLiberte said.

LaLiberte said she cannot speculate when the bloom will dissipate.

We will keep you updated when the smelly situation goes away.