Local lakes switch places on blue-green algae alerts

For a change of pace, Marion County Lake is under a blue-green algae “warning” while Marion Reservoir has been downgraded to a “watch” following consecutive seven weeks on the more severe list.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism, issued a public health warning July 13 for five lakes and a watch for two lakes due to harmful algal blooms.

Joining Marion County Lake on the “warning” list are Milford Reservoir (all zones), Geary, Dickinson and Clay counties; and Wolf Pond, Barton County.

In addition to Marion Reservoir, the “watch” status includes Overbrook City Lake, Osage County; Sam’s Pond, Hamilton County; and Webster Lake, Rooks County,

Lakes under a warning are not closed. Marinas, lakeside businesses and park camping facilities are open for business. If swim beaches are closed, it will be specifically noted. Drinking water and showers at parks are safe and not affected by algae blooms.

Boating and fishing are safe on lakes under a warning, but contact with the water should be avoided. It is safe to eat fish caught during a harmful blue-green algae outbreak, as long as the fish is rinsed with clean water. Only the fillet portion should be consumed; discard all other parts.

Hands should also be washed with clean water after handling fish taken from an affected lake. Zoned lakes may have portions fully open for all recreation even if other portions are under a warning.

Kansans should be aware that blooms are unpredictable. They can develop rapidly and may float around the lake, requiring visitors to exercise their best judgment.

If there is scum, a paint-like surface or the water is bright green, avoid contact and keep pets away. Pet owners should be aware that animals that swim in or drink water affected by a harmful algal bloom or eat dried algae along the shore may become seriously ill or die.