Do you suspect a blue-green algae bloom in your lake or in a public lake you've visited?
- Fill out a bloomWatch app report on your smartphone. See the
bloomWatch quick Start Guide for instructions.
For more information:
- Fill out a
Bloom Report Form. (Google Chrome users: You may need to download the form first before opening it. Right-click the link and select "Save link as..." from the menu.)
- Fill out as much of the form as possible.
- Take two photographs of the bloom. One photo should be a close-up of the algal bloom or scum and the other photo should include the surrounding landscape to help identify the location of the bloom or scum on the lake.
- Submit the form with copies of the pictures to
- If you are a volunteer in the Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program (VLMP), contact your regional VLMP coordinator. Contact information is provided below:
Holly Hudson - Northern Coordinator
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
233 South Wacker Drive, Suite 800
Chicago, IL 60606
(Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties)
Alana Bartolai - Lake County
Lake County Health Department
500 W. Winchester Road, Unit 102
Libertyville, IL 60048
Tyler Carpenter - Southern Coordinator
Greater Egypt Regional Planning and Development Commission
3000 W. DeYoung Street, Suite 800B-3
Marion, IL 62959
(Alexander, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union and Williamson Counties)
What Happens Next?
Note: Someone at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) will review all forms submitted; however, the ability to initiate follow-up activities will be dependent on time and resources of the Illinois EPA at the time of the submittal. Priority will be given to publicly owned lakes.
If the Bloom Report and photos support the occurrence of an actual blue-green algae bloom, a responder may be sent to investigate the bloom. The responder could be an Illinois EPA employee or a VLMP coordinator. Illinois EPA will be able to send responders only as time and resources allow.
If a responder is sent to investigate, they will attempt to contact the person reporting the bloom for additional current information about the bloom. They may also visit the lake to collect a sample for analysis of microcystins. A screening test for microcystins may also be conducted. Results of screening tests are usually available within 24-36 hrs. If microcystins are detected above concentrations of concern, the person reporting the bloom and the lake manager will be notified.
A sample may also be sent to the Illinois EPA laboratory for quantitative analysis (with a longer turn-around for results). Results will be provided to the person reporting the bloom and the lake manager, if known.
Illinois EPA will not issue an advisory or close a lake due to microcystin concentrations that exceed USEPA’s draft swimming advisory threshold (see below). Illinois EPA will provide information to the lake manager or homeowner, and may make recommendations on lake usage. With information in hand, the lake manager or homeowner’s association, at their discretion, may choose to post an advisory (or close a portion of the lake), warning people of the elevated microcystin levels in the lake.
Follow-up qualitative or quantitative samples may be taken, on a site-specific basis, as time and resources allow.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has developed draft values for two cyanotoxins, microcystins and cylindrospermopsin, for states to consider as the basis for public health protection in recreational waters (see Table 1). The draft values are recommended thresholds that are not to be exceeded on any day.
Table 1. Draft Recreational AWQC for Cyanotoxins
a.Swimming Advisory: not to be exceeded on any day.
b.Recreational Criteria for Waterbody Impairment: not exceeded more than 10 percent of days per recreational season up to one calendar year.
Swimming Advisory Fact Sheet
Swimming Advisory Document
Use caution around water containing a possible harmful algae bloom. People and pets should avoid direct contact to, inhaling droplets of, or ingesting any of the water. When working near or investigating a bloom, safety equipment including: gloves, carpenter’s mask, waders, goggles, and personal flotation devices are recommended. If you or your pets come in to contact with surface water exhibiting signs of a potential harmful algae bloom, wash immediately with soap and tap water.
Reporting Human Illness
Groups of people who experience illness with similar symptoms after swimming in recreational water should report this to their local health department for follow-up.
Chorus I, Bartram J. 1999. Toxic cyanobacteria in water: a guide to their public health consequences, monitoring and management. World Health Organization.
Graham JL, Loftin KA, Kamman N. 2009. Monitoring recreational freshwaters. LakeLine 29:18–24.