KDWPT / KDWPT Info / News / News Archive / 2011 Weekly News / Blue-Green Algae Alert / BLUE-GREEN ALGAE DETECTED IN NINE KANSAS LAKES

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BLUE-GREEN ALGAE DETECTED IN NINE KANSAS LAKES

Most facilities open for recreation; KDHE recommends caution
TOPEKA — Blue-green algae are natural, common bacteria in all waters of Kansas. Ordinarily, they are not harmful to humans or aquatic life, but under certain conditions — especially during the heat of the summer — they can multiply rapidly, resulting in a “bloom.” When this happens, blooms may release toxins that are dangerous to fish, pets, and humans. Some algae blooms look like foam or a thick slurry. They can be blue, bright green, brown, or red and may look like paint floating on the water. Some blooms may not affect the appearance of the water. Algae blooms should be considered Nature’s warning signs saying, “Stay out of the water.”

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) samples recreational bodies of water for blue-green algae when they are alerted to a potential algae bloom. When problems arise, they cooperate with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) and federal officials to inform the public.

Based upon the latest sampling results and established health risk levels, KDHE is currently issuing warnings and advisories, and lake users should understand these two terms.

A “warning” is issued when high levels of toxic blue-green algae have been detected. A “Public Health Warning” indicates that water conditions are unsafe, and direct water contact (wading, skiing, and swimming) should be avoided. Current concentrations of algae in the following waters exceeded the KDHE recommended level of less than 100,000 cells/ml for recreational water use and are currently under warning:

  • Perry Reservoir, Jefferson County — Rock Creek Arm;
  • Perry Reservoir — Old Town Public Use Area;
  • Marion County Lake;
  • Memorial Park Lake, Great Bend, Barton County; and
  • Meade State Lake, Meade County.

When a warning is issued, KDHE recommends the following precautions be taken:

  • do not drink lake water;
  • avoid swimming, wading, or other activities with full-body contact of lake water;
  • clean fish well, consume only the fillet portion, and discard all other parts; and
  • keep pets from having contact with or drinking lake water.

As a result of the warning at the two Perry Reservoir locations, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and KDWPT have closed the Perry Park Corps of Engineers Swim Beach and the Perry State Park Beach. Park users should note that this closure only affects these two beaches. The parks, marinas, and lakeside businesses around Perry Reservoir are open for business as usual, including camping and other recreational activities. The drinking water and showers are safe and not affected by the algae bloom.

An “advisory is issued when harmful blue-green algae have been detected. A “Public Health Advisory” indicates that a hazardous “condition” exists, but water activities such as boating and fishing may be safe. However, direct contact with water (wading, swimming) is strongly discouraged for people and pets.

KDHE has issue an advisory for the following Kansas public waters:

  • Perry Reservoir (the entire lake), Jefferson County;
  • Big Hill Reservoir, Labette County;
  • Marion Reservoir, Marion County;
  • Old Herington City Lake, Dickinson County; and
  • Logan City Lake, Phillips County.

In addition, KDHE recommends the following precautions be taken:

  • do not drink lake water;
  • clean fish well, consume only the fillet portion, and discard all other parts; and
  • keep pets from having contact with or drinking lake water.

“I hope anyone going to one of the lakes takes time to understand KDHE’s advisories and warnings,” said KDWPT Secretary Robin Jennison. “People should use common sense and follow KDHE’s precautions, but there’s no need to panic. Our state park facilities still remain the very best places to enjoy the outdoors, even in the heat of summer.”

KDHE will continue to monitor these public waters and will update statements as conditions warrant. More information on algae and algae blooms, including up-to-date advisories and warnings, can be found at online at www.kdheks.gov/algae-illness/index.htm.
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