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Algae warnings in effect for Kansas lakes

posted Dec 15, 2011, 1:52 PM by Ramandeep Dulku

 
Posted: October 7, 2011 - 6:37am
 
 
 
Algae warnings in effect for Kansas lakes

Nearly a dozen Kansas lakes remain under warnings or advisories for high levels of blue-green algae, meaning people and pets should avoid direct contact with the water.

Blue-green algae become a health concern when they bloom in massive amounts and release toxins that may cause rashes, vomiting, nausea and other symptoms. The extreme heat and drought over most of Kansas this summer caused abnormal levels of the toxin.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said warnings now are in place for Santa Fe Lake, Memorial Park Lake, Harvey County West Lake, August City Lake, Milford Lake, Logan Lake and Warnock Lake.

Advisories are posted for Dillon Park Lake, as well as East Lake and Camp Hawk Lake in Harvey County, meaning boating may be safe but wading is discouraged.

Link to the Original Website:

http://cjonline.com/news/2011-10-07/algae-warnings-effect-kansas-lakes

Kansas agencies assessing algae’s impact in lakes

posted Dec 15, 2011, 1:46 PM by Ramandeep Dulku

BY JOHN MILBURN

The Associated Press


TOPEKA | State parks officials are assessing the impact of large-scale, blue-green algae blooms at Kansas lakes and reservoirs that kept people and animals out of the lakes this summer.

Dangerous levels of the toxic algae prompted Kansas health officials to post advisories and warnings since May. Ron Kaufman, spokesman for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, said the algae blooms, along with weather conditions, prompted numerous cancellations at state cabins and campsites.

“It certainly had a significant impact on our state park system and even more on the other parks and businesses in the area, particularly at the larger reservoirs,” Kaufman said. “Visitors basically stayed away if they couldn’t get in the water or take their pets in the water.”

He said the agency was still assessing the economic impact on its summer revenues. The algae conditions occurred as many people were looking to spend their scarce leisure dollars staying closer to home enjoying Kansas parks and lakes.

“If not for the algae, we were looking at a pretty decent year,” Kaufman said.

Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, are found naturally in bodies of water. They become a health concern when they bloom in massive amounts and release toxins, which can cause rashes, vomiting, nausea and other symptoms. KDHE says the toxins can be harmful to humans and their pets.

High heat and drought conditions caused abnormal levels of the toxin this summer.

Kaufman said high water levels along with the algae blooms were particularly difficult for visitors and businesses near Milford Lake in northeast Kansas. Water levels were higher much of the summer after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers halted regular releases of water because of flooding downstream on the Missouri River.

Tom Langer, director of the bureau of environmental health for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said the rising water meant more nutrient-rich land was now under water, providing a good food supply for the algae to grow. With that and the weather, Langer said, “These conditions are creating situations where the blooms are so intense that you can’t enjoy the water for recreation.”

Drinking water supplies are also threatened, he said.

While algae blooms have occurred in the past, this year raises concerns because of the frequency and intensity
.

Posted on Sun, Sep. 25, 2011 10:15 PM


Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/09/25/3166668/kansas-agencies-assessing-algaes.html#ixzz1ZByAaULb

Blue-green algae traveling down Kaw

posted Dec 15, 2011, 1:44 PM by Ramandeep Dulku

By Christine Metz
  • on September 8, 2011
    A mass of blue green algae near the shore line of Milford Lake. The algal blooms have wrecked havoc on the lake's economy since mid July.

    A mass of blue green algae near the shore line of Milford Lake. The algal blooms have wrecked havoc on the lake's economy since mid July. byChristine Metz

    The U.S. Geological Survey is monitoring toxic levels of blue-green algae as water released from Milford Lake moves downstream along the Kansas River.

    On Aug. 31, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released water from the bulging Milford Lake reservoir, which had been plagued by dangerous levels of blue-green algae toxins for much of the summer. Two days later, USGS began testing water at 14 different sites along the Kansas River for the algae, known scientifically as cyanobacteria.

    At that point, water released from Milford Lake hadn’t made it past the Wamego and Belvue area, said Jennifer Graham, a research hydrologist with the USGS who has studied blue-green algae across the country. But the preliminary data showed that the toxins — and taste and odor problems — prevalent on Milford Lake were being transported downstream.

    Graham said that by early Tuesday, the peak flow from Milford Lake had likely reached Kansas City. The USGS took more water samples Thursday and will have those results by next Tuesday.

    Some Lawrence residents noticed a change in their water quality shortly after the Milford Lake water was believed to have passed through Lawrence.

    Among them was Sarah Scoular, who on Tuesday evening was making a protein shake when she smelled that earthy, musky smell that was so common in the city’s water supply late last summer.

    “I was pouring water into blender and I smelled dirt,” Scoular said. “I said it’s happening again. It is a very distinct dirt smell.”

    That musky taste hasn’t left, Scoular said.

    The taste and odor isn’t currently as bad as last year, and Scoular said she believes she is more sensitive to it than most people.

    Jeanette Klamm, projects manager for the city of Lawrence utilities department, said Thursday that city officials haven’t heard any complaints from water customers about taste and odor problems.

    While the city does test daily for water quality issues caused by algae, it doesn’t test for toxic cyanobacteria. The algae isn’t always toxic, but at certain levels it can be deadly to humans and animals.

    Even if there were high levels, Klamm said, the toxins are filtered out at the water treatment plant.

    “Because they were detecting cyanobacteria toxins in the reservoir water coming into the Kansas River doesn’t necessarily mean they are making it past our treatment process,” Klamm said. “There isn’t any indication that our treatment process isn’t removing them.”

    Lawrence, along with the Topeka water department and WaterOne, which supplies water to Johnson County, have met with the USGS to talk about high cyanobacteria levels.

    “They are looking at their drinking water and making changes to the treatment process,” Graham said.

    Link to the Original Website:

    http://sunflowerhorizons.com/groups/for-the-future/2011/sep/8/blue-green-algae-traveling-down-kaw/

    Concerns about blue-green algae shut down Kaw River Water Treatment Plant

    posted Dec 15, 2011, 1:41 PM by Ramandeep Dulku

    By Christine Metz
    • on September 15, 2011
      Steve Hall, utility operator at the Kaw River Water Treatment Plant, makes his rounds in this August 2010 file photo, collecting samples of water from the basins at the plant. Many Lawrence residents at the time complained about their water tasting and smelling musty. Officials at the plant attributed the problem to byproducts of algae.

      Steve Hall, utility operator at the Kaw River Water Treatment Plant, makes his rounds in this August 2010 file photo, collecting samples of water from the basins at the plant. Many Lawrence residents at the time complained about their water tasting and smelling musty. Officials at the plant attributed the problem to byproducts of algae. byNick Krug

      Updated 5:40 p.m.

      Toxic blue green-algae wasn’t detected in water samples taken from the city of Lawrence’s treatment plant last week.

      On Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey released results that showed water treated at the Kaw River Water Treatment Plant, or any other water departments along the Kaw, contained no traces of the toxin.

      The results come almost a week after Lawrence stopped pulling water from the Kansas River because ofconcerns over the toxic levels of blue-green algae that were detected upstream.

      Jeanette Klamm, projects manager for the city’s utilities department, called shutting down the Kaw plant a precautionary measure and an easy decision because demand for water was low and maintenance on the plant needed to be done. The city will rely on water from its Clinton Treatment Plant in the coming weeks.

      The city shut down the treatment plant late last Friday after the U.S. Geological Survey released preliminary data that showed high levels of blue-green toxins in water that was being released from Milford Lake and flowing down the Kaw.

      For much of the summer, Milford Lake has been battling toxic levels of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria. At high levels, the toxins can cause illness or death in people and animals. Three dogs died this summer after being in Milford Lake.

      In August, levels at the lake were 80 times higher than what the World Health Organization deemed dangerous.

      On Aug. 31, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a large amount of water from Milford Lake, sparking concerns that high levels of cyanobacteria toxins would get swept downstream. Two days later, the USGS tested water at 14 points along the Kaw. In areas the Milford Lake water had reached, they found high levels of blue-green algae. At that point, the water hadn’t reached Lawrence.

      “We have a lot of (algal) bloom events in Kansas reservoirs. We have them almost every year. The thing that is unique here is that water was being held in Milford Reservoir that needed to be released. And that (release) happened at a time (algal) toxins and taste and odor problems were very large,” said Andy Ziegler, director of USGS’s Kansas Water Science Center.

      Another round of water was tested on Sept. 8, two days before Lawrence stopped pulling water from the Kaw. Results from those samples, which were released Thursday, showed that the toxins weren’t in drinking water, but could be found in the Kaw.

      In areas where Milford Lake and Perry Lake flow into the river, water samples showed the toxins at a level of 4 micrograms per liter. That number was diluted farther downstream, with just 0.8 micrograms per liter in Johnson County. The World Health Organization guideline for drinking water is set at an average of 1 microgram per liter over a person’s lifetime.

      The USGS will release more results next week from samples taken Monday.

      “There’s a lot of science we don’t know (about blue-green algae),” Ziegler said. “With the sampling done this week and last week, we hope to learn more about what causes these events so we can know more about how to help water suppliers adjust treatments.”

      Even though toxin levels weren’t detected at the Kaw plant, it won’t be operating in the next few weeks as the city continues to perform maintenance.

      This isn’t the first time Lawrence had to draw heavily from the Clinton Treatment Plant. In summer 2010, a similar algae outbreak upstream left a musky taste in water from the Kaw, so more water production was shifted to the Clinton plant.

      “It seems that there is a trend,” Klamm said.

      While it won’t make a difference for where the city pulls its water in the short term, Klamm hopes the data from the most recent water samples will help determine what can be done upstream to fix it.

      “I don’t think it’s a Lawrence issue. I think we would certainly like to see some discussion on what could be done or would be done,” Klamm said.

      Link to the original Website:

      http://sunflowerhorizons.com/groups/for-the-future/2011/sep/15/concerns-about-blue-green-algae-shut-dow/

      Algae outbreak closes Milford Lake

      posted Dec 15, 2011, 1:34 PM by Ramandeep Dulku

       

      Posted: August 31, 2011 - 8:09am
      By Associated Press 

      People planning to spend Labor Day at Milford Lake might want to make new arrangements.

      The Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced Tuesday that it is canceling all activities at the lake that involve direct contact with water, including swimming, fishing and skiing.

      Boating also is prohibited but the lake officials are hopeful that boating could be allowed by Labor Day if tests taken Monday show the amount of algae has dropped.

      Several state water attractions have reported algae blooms this summer. The algae can cause severe flu-like symptoms.

      Link to the Original Website:

      http://cjonline.com/news/2011-08-31/algae-outbreak-closes-milford-lake

      Blue-green algae outbreak closes Milford Lake

      posted Dec 15, 2011, 1:32 PM by Ramandeep Dulku   [ updated Dec 15, 2011, 1:35 PM ]

      The Associated Press

      WICHITA | People planning to spend Labor Day at Milford Lake might want to make new arrangements.

      The Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced Tuesday that it is canceling all activities at the lake that involve direct contact with water, including swimming, fishing and skiing.

      Boating also is prohibited but the lake officials are hopeful that boating could be allowed by Labor Day if tests taken Monday show the amount of algae has dropped.

      Several state water attractions have reported algae blooms this summer. The algae can cause severe flu-like symptoms.

      Posted on Wed, Aug. 31, 2011 06:58 AM


      Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/08/31/3111270/blue-green-algae-outbreak-closes.html#ixzz1WjXhUnVB

      Solutions Murky for Fixing Kansas'Green Blue Algae Problems

      posted Dec 15, 2011, 1:23 PM by Ramandeep Dulku

      By Christine Metz
      • on September 3, 2011
        A sign posted at Milford Lake Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011 warned of a dangerous algal bloom, some of which can be seen along the shore line. High waters, 100-degree temperatures and an aging reservoir have all contributed to the massive bloom. The lake was closed days before when water samples showed toxin levels 80 times higher than what the World Health Organization deemed dangerous.

        A sign posted at Milford Lake Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011 warned of a dangerous algal bloom, some of which can be seen along the shore line. High waters, 100-degree temperatures and an aging reservoir have all contributed to the massive bloom. The lake was closed days before when water samples showed toxin levels 80 times higher than what the World Health Organization deemed dangerous. byChristine Metz

        Milford Lake — From underneath a giant tree, Vonnie Bryant watches the happenings at Milford Lake. She’s a regular at Flagstop Resort and RV Park and her camp spot has a wide-open view of the largest lake in Kansas.

        “I’d rather sit out here than at home,” the Junction City widow said. “It’s peaceful and relaxing.”

        But lately, Bryant hasn’t had much to look at. In the days before one of the biggest weekends of the summer season, the lake sat empty and still. Picnic areas were deserted, parking lots barren and boat ramps barricaded.

        The culprit was just a few steps away from Bryant’s camper: a toxic, smelly blue-green algal bloom.

        “You can sit here and watch the stuff grow,” Bryant said.

        Known scientifically as cyanobacteria, the blue-green algal bloom has wrecked havoc on Milford Lake since mid-July.

        Three dogs have died from the toxic bacteria and two human illnesses have been linked to it.

        Last week, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment took water samples that showed toxin levels were 80 times higher than what the World Health Organization deems dangerous. It was that report that shut down all activity on the lake.

        Last Tuesday, Bryant and her two campground comrades, Kurt Champagne and Dave Behrens, were among the few “diehards ” still at the campground.

        “People keep calling me. And, I say, ‘no you can’t get out on (the lake). But you can still come here to play, party and drink.’ But people just don’t want to come,” Bryant said.

        While Bryant lacks visitors, Flagstop Resort owner Jan Boan is in need of customers.

        The resort’s 16 cabins had been booked for weeks. But when news of the warning went out, the cancellation calls came in.

        Boan, who owns the resort with her husband, Gary, won’t know until the end of the year how bad business has been. But she knows it definitely wasn’t good.

        “It’s been a difficult summer,” she said.

        The Flagstop Resort isn’t alone. Private and government owned campgrounds, marinas, convenience stores and boat shops have all suffered, said R.J. Harms, Milford Lake project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

        “It’s pretty quiet. Not many people around. We’ve been sitting here looking at green water for the last month wondering when it’s going to change for us,” Harms said.

        Tom Langer, the KDHE’s director of Environmental Health, is fully aware of the health and economic impacts of cyanobacteria.

        “This is not done lightly,” Langer said of the warnings his agency puts out. “This is an issue we think will be with us for a long time. We are doing what we should do as stewards of the environment.”

        A mass of blue green algae near the shore line of Milford Lake. The algal blooms have wrecked havoc on the lake's economy since mid July.

        A mass of blue green algae near the shore line of Milford Lake. The algal blooms have wrecked havoc on the lake's economy since mid July. byChristine Metz

        A billion-year-old mystery

        Cyanobacteria isn’t new in Kansas. In fact, scientists believe the organism has been on earth for billions of years and were key in placing oxygen in the atmosphere.

        Despite its long history, there is much that remains a mystery about cyanobacteria.

        “Bottom line, most lakes and reservoirs have the capability to have these blooms,” said Keith Loftin, a research chemist with the Kansas Water Science Center at the U.S. Geological Survey. “Yet the science isn’t advanced enough to understand when those blooms will happen and if they will be toxic.”

        Loftin and research partner Jennifer Graham, a research hydrologist at the Kansas Water Science Center, have spent a good chunk of their careers studying cyanobacteria.

        Across the country, Graham has seen toxic algal blooms in body waters covered in ice. She has seen them occur in one lake but not in one next to it. She’s also seen large algal blooms that aren’t toxic and small ones that were.

        “One of the big questions outstanding in research is when and why do the organisms become toxic,” Graham said.

        The lake’s water quality, sedimentation and hydrology could all determine how big an algal blooms could grow. So could the amount of nutrients being dumped into the watershed upstream and the weather pattern.

        The causes are believed to be decades in the making, yet the scientific data tracking these blooms isn’t very extensive.

        “Is it climate change, the normal weather cycle, water quality, excess nutrients?” Loftin asked? “It’s really kind of a complex problem to deal with.”

        High water at Milford Lake was one of the factors contributing to the outbreak of blue green algae this summer.

        High water at Milford Lake was one of the factors contributing to the outbreak of blue green algae this summer. byChristine Metz

        Why not Perry Lake?

        Even without knowing the exact cause, everyone seems to agree that a“prefect storm” transpired at Milford Lake this summer to create the highest toxicity levels ever recorded in Kansas.

        “I’ve been around the lake for 25 years and I’ve never seen it to this degree,” Harms said.

        For starters, Milford Lake already has a high nutrient load with a thick layer of sediment built up over years of water runoff. Upstream flooding raised the reservoir water levels by 14 feet. That high water absorbed even more nutrients from the shoreline and banks.

        Downstream flooding meant that water couldn’t be released. For most of the summer, the lake sat calm and quiet, a festering breeding ground for cyanobacteria.

        Then there were the 20 days of 100 degrees or more temperatures.

        “It’s like we are putting out a fire with gasoline,” Langer said. “It just doesn’t work.”

        For Langer, the mystery isn’t why the outbreak was so bad at Milford, but why it wasn’t worse at some of the state’s other reservoirs.

        A real scare came early in the summer when toxicity levels at Perry Lake forced the KDHE to issue a warning for people and animals to stay out of the water. Even before that, Langer had concerns about algal bloom outbreaks because of Perry Lake’s hydrology and history of nutrient loads.

        “When there was a report of a bloom, we were really anticipating it might be a long-term process that could affect the water quality and recreational opportunities all summer long,” Langer said.

        But the algal bloom peaked and then went away, taking the toxic bacteria levels with it.

        “We were left scratching our heads,” Langer said. “We could see something that occurs next year that is totally different.”

        He is also puzzled by Clinton Lake, which could be a concern because it is filling up with sediment far faster than anyone had anticipated and it holds drinking water for the city of Lawrence.

        In August there was a report of an algal bloom at Clinton Lake.

        “We went out there, looked at it right away and were taking samples,” he said. “It was a false alarm.”

        An even bigger question mark is why some of the state’s oldest reservoirs built during the 1930s WPA era, such as Lone Star Lake and Lake Shawnee, don’t seem to have any problems with blue-green algae.

        “It’s taught us that each water body is like an individual with its own unique characteristics and chemistry,” Langer said.

        Murky solutions

        No federal guidelines are in place to monitor toxic levels of cyanobacteria. So last year, the KDHE adopted the World Health Organization’s recommendations for issuing public warnings and advisories for when toxicity levels are too dangerous for those in the water.

        When the KDHE hears of algal blooms in the state’s water bodies, officials sample the water and monitor it.

        Without having the sampling program in place, Langer said the situation at Milford Lake would have probably been signaled by reports of dying animals and from physicians who were treating patients with flu-like illnesses.

        Graham and Loftin commended Kansas for tracking the levels of cyanobacteria. Not all states do. But they noted finding longer term solutions to the toxic algal blooms can be a little more problematic.

        “The lake didn’t get this way in a year or two, and you can’t expect to fix it in a year or two. It is something that is going to take a lot of time,”Graham said.

        Across the country, algaecides have been applied, copper sulfate is used and hydrology is changed. These short-term solutions are expensive, have potential harmful effects to the rest of the lake’s ecology and might not work.

        “A lot of these are basically unplanned experiments,” Loftin said. “And, mother nature tends to fool us.”

        More substantive changes revolve around better management of the watershed to reduce the nutrients and sediments that are deposited into the reservoirs.

        “Long-term solutions are a bit more challenging,” Loftin said. “Nutrient issues and sediment issues are going to be an issue to contend with and there may be other factors we might not understand yet in terms of water quality.”

        As for Milford Lake, some question what can be accomplished.

        “There is not a whole lot that can be done by our agency or anyone else,” Harms said. “It’s a monumental task to clean up a watershed above a big water body and our hands are tied at the mercy of mother nature.”

        Langer has a slightly different outlook. He believes improving bodies of water like Milford Lake is going to take a fundamental shift in thinking on the part of everyone who lives above a watershed.

        “If we are going to truthfully address water quality issues we have to go all the way upstream and say, ‘OK, what are you doing, how are the lands being used and what practices should we look at changing and altering to keep nutrients from flushing off the surface and into the water?” Langer said.

        Kurt Champagne, Vonnie Bryant and David Behrens all spend their summers at Flagstop Resort and RV Park. The trio is among the diehard campers who remain at the park despite the numerous warnings and advisories posted about the safety of the water.

        Kurt Champagne, Vonnie Bryant and David Behrens all spend their summers at Flagstop Resort and RV Park. The trio is among the diehard campers who remain at the park despite the numerous warnings and advisories posted about the safety of the water. byChristine Metz

        Fun on dry land

        As governmental officials look for long term solutions, the campers at Milford’s Flagstop Resort continue to look for ways to stay entertained while water advisories are in place.

        “We have $50,000 worth of equipment and all we can do is drink whiskey,” Dave Behrens said on Tuesday.

        Campers have put on scavenger hunts, held a 30-golf cart funeral procession for a broken dashboard hula girl and spent quite a bit of time talking about the water conditions, Kurt Champagne said.

        In time for the Labor Day weekend, the KDHE lifted the ban on fishing and boating at Milford Lake. But it did so with a strong warning that people and animals should avoid any contact with the water.

        Even with part of the ban lifted, Champagne said it will be a tough sell to convince some people to return.

        “It’s hard to explain to a 7-year-old that you can’t go swimming,” he said. “You can only entertain the kids for so long.”

        Regardless of the restrictions in place, neither Champagne nor Behrens plan to abandon the campground, whose occupants have formed an extended family of sorts.

        “This is what we love to do,” Behrens said.

        Tagged: cyanobacteriablue green algaeKansas Department of Health and EnvironmentMilford Lake

        Link to the Original Website:

        http://sunflowerhorizons.com/groups/for-the-future/2011/sep/3/solutions-murky-for-fixing-kansas-green-/

        Algae Concerns Close Beaches at Perry Lake

        posted Dec 15, 2011, 12:44 PM by Ramandeep Dulku

        Posted: July 15, 2011 - 6:12pm

        Algae closes swim beach

        The two swimming beaches at Perry Lake have been closed because of concerns about harmful algae.

        The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism said Friday they have closed the Perry Park Corps of Engineers Swim Beach and the Perry State Park Beach at Perry Lake because of health risks surrounding harmful algae bloom.

        The Kansas Department of Health and Environment warned that high levels of toxic blue-green algae were detected at the Rock Creek arm and the Old Town public use area of Perry Lake. The warning indicates that water conditions aren’t safe and direct water contact, including wading, skiing and swimming, shouldn’t occur.

        KDHE said that along with avoiding contact with lake water, other precautions should also be taken, including cleaning fish well and keeping pets from having contact with or drinking lake water.

        Perry Lake’s parks and marinas are open for business, including camping. The drinking water and showers are safe.

        More information on algae and current conditions can be found at www.kdheks.gov/algae-illness/index.htm.

        The Capital-Journal

        Link to the Original Website:

        http://cjonline.com/news/2011-07-15/algae-concerns-close-beaches-perry-lake

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