Algae watch issued for Harvey County East Lake

Chad Frey
The Kansan

Public Health Advisories for Kansas Lake Due to Blue-Green Algae

TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) has issued several public health advisories for Kansas lakes due to blue-green algae on July 8 — and Harvey County East Park was on the list for a watch. 

Access to the water of East Lake is closed as staff awaits testing for Blue Green Algae by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Parks staff announced July 4 the closure of the waters of East Lake Park, citing Blue-Green Algae concerns.

This weekend the lake will reopen, as the status of the lake is a watch status and not a warning status. 

"The lake will be open for boating. With swimming, stay away from blooms," said Kyle McCaskey, director of public information for Harvey County.

According to KDHE, several species of blue-green algae produce chemical compounds that are toxic to people, pets, livestock, and wildlife. The biggest risk to health comes from contact with or ingestion of the toxins produced by the blue-green algae bloom during activities that bring an individual into full body contact with the water , or from inhaling spray cast up from the water's surface, either by recreational activities or by the wind.

Exposure can cause rash, respiratory paralysis, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat and other symptoms. 

KDHE investigates publicly-accessible bodies of water for blue-green algae when the agency receives reports of potential algae blooms in Kansas lakes. Based on credible field observation and sampling results, KDHE reports on potentially harmful conditions.

KDHE can issue a watch, warning or hazard designation for bodies of water inspected, The department issues weekly lists of each designated body of water in Kansas.  

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

Lake water is not safe to drink for pets or livestock.

Lake water, regardless of blue-green algae status, should never be consumed by humans.

Water contact should be avoided.

Fish may be eaten if they are rinsed with clean water and only the fillet portion is consumed, while all other parts are discarded.

Do not allow pets to eat dried algae.

If lake water contacts skin, wash with clean water as soon as possible.

Avoid areas of visible algae accumulation.

A watch means that blue-green algae have been detected and a harmful algal bloom is present or likely to develop. People are encouraged to avoid areas of algae accumulation and keep pets and livestock away from the water.

During the watch status, KDHE recommends the following precautions be taken:

Signage will be posted at all public access locations.

Water may be unsafe for humans/animals.

Avoid areas of algae accumulation and do not let people/pets eat dried algae or drink contaminated water.

Swimming, wading, skiing and jet skiing are discouraged near visible blooms.

Boating and fishing are safe. However, inhalation of the spray may affect some individuals. Avoid direct contact with water, and wash with clean water after any contact.

Clean fish well with potable water and eat fillet portion only.

Advisories issued July 8 included: 

Warning

Atchison County State Fishing Lake, Atchison County

Brown State Fishing Lake, Brown County

Herington Reservoir (New City Lake), Dickinson County

Gathering Pond at Milford, Geary County

Milford Lake Zone C, Geary County

Big Hill Lake, Labette County (upgrade 7/9)

Marion Reservoir, Marion County

Webster Reservoir, Rooks County

Jerry Ivey Pond, Saline County

Big Eleven Lake, Wyandotte County

Watch

Mission Lake Horton, Brown County

Herington City Lake (Old Lake), Dickinson County

Milford Lake Zones A and B, Geary County

Harvey County East Lake, Harvey County (new)

Horsethief Reservoir, Hodgeman County

South Lake, Johnson County

Altamont City Lake “Idle Hour”, Labette County (new)

Linn Valley Lake, Linn County (new)

Marion County Lake, Marion County

Melvern Outlet Pond, Osage County

Overbook City Lake, Osage County

Agra City Lake, Phillips County (downgrade 7/9)

Atwood Township Lake, Rawlins County