The hottest days of summer have arrived, and with them the first set of warnings and watches for blue-green algae blooms on Kansas lakes.
Algal blooms are a perennial problem for reservoirs, ponds and other bodies of water but this year has been made worse by widespread flooding that has increased inflows of sediment and along with it, the nutrients that overfeed the algae.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, in conjunction with the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, has issued warnings for seven lakes. They are Big Eleven Lake in Wyandotte County; Jerry Ivey Pond in Saline County; Marion County Lake in Marion County; Haatchery Supply Pond near Milford Lake in Geary County; South Lake in Johnson County; Colby City Pond in Thomas County; and Lebo Kids’ Pond in Coffee County.
KDHE warns that lake water under warning for blue-green algae is not safe for pets or livestock, and that lake water of any kind is never safe for humans to drink. When blue-green algae is present, all water contact should be avoided, including wading or swimming. Boating or fishing is safe but take care to avoid water contact or splashing should be taken.
Fish caught in water contaminated by blue-green algae are safe to eat if they are first thoroughly rinsed with clean water. Only the fillet portion can be consumed, though, while all the other parts must be thrown away.
Dried algae at the edge of ponds or lakes is poisonous and pets should not be allowed to eat it.
If you come in contact with water contaminated with blue-green algae, wash with clean water as soon as possible. The safest course is to stay away from areas with visible algae, which looks like a scum or paint-like surface on the water. Water that is bright green is always unsafe.
Nine additional lakes are under watch, meaning that blue-green algae has been detected and a harmful algal bloom is present or likely to develop. During the watch status, signage will be posted at all public access locations.
KDHE samples publicly accessible bodies of water for blue-green algae when the agency receives reports of potential algae blooms in Kansas lakes.
Go online for additional information on blue-green algae blooms and an updated list of lakes or ponds with warnings or watches.
This article includes information provided by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.