The Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region is warning people from swimming at three beaches in the Qu’Appelle lake chain because of blue-green algae.

“These are tiny little plants, and what happens is you get perfect conditions, warmer water, calm and sunny days and some nutrients, and they bloom,” said Rob Shuba, manager of environmental health at the health region.

Roughly 30 to 50 per cent of blue-green algae blooms are harmless, but they can cause skin irritation, rashes, and if ingested it can cause sore throat, cramps, or diarrhea. The health region said because of the high levels of the algae, they’re advising the public to stay out of the water at Katepwa Beach, B-Say-Tah Beach, and Echo Lake Bible Camp Beach.

If weather conditions stay favourable for the algae, more beaches could be closed.

“We’re basically warning the public that when you see the scum layers at some of the beaches, don’t go in the water,” Shuba said.

Shuba said people should avoid swimming in the water, drinking it, allowing pets to drink it, and even using it for irrigation.

The algae will naturally recede as weather conditions change.

Signs are up at all of the affected beaches to avoid the water if a scummy layer is on top of the water.

As of Friday afternoon, the health region hadn’t had any reported incidents of illness related to the algae.