WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) have issued public health advisories for some Kansas lakes due to blue-green algae.

What is blue-green algae?

A harmful algal bloom (HAB) may look like foam, scum or paint floating on the water and be colored blue, bright green, brown or red. Blooms can develop rapidly; if the water appears suspicious or there is decaying algae on the shore, avoid contact and keep dogs away. These toxins can be absorbed by ingestion, inhalation of aerosols and even skin contact. Symptoms vary depending upon the type of exposure (e.g. direct contact, ingestion, inhalation) but can include rash, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, sore throat, and headache. If you, or your dog, come into contact with algae rinse the area with clean, fresh water. Suspected HAB-related health incidents, whether human or animal, regardless of season, should be reported at https://www.kdhe.ks.gov/1163.”

KDHE AND KDWP

Active advisories include the following:

Warning:

  • Colwich City Lake, Sedgwick County
  • Crystal Lake, Anderson County
  • Ford County Lake, Ford County
  • Gathering Pond, Geary County
  • Jerry Ivey Pond, Saline County
  • Kingston Lake, Johnson County
  • Melvern Outlet (River) Pond, Osage County
  • Milford Lake Zone A, Dickinson and Geary Counties (Elevated on Sept. 22)
  • Milford Lake Zone B, Geary County (Elevated on Sept. 22)
  • Milford Lake Zone C, Geary and Clay County
  • Overbrook City Lake, Osage County
  • Rooks County SFL, Rooks County
  • South Park Lake, Johnson County

warning means that conditions are unsafe for human and pet exposure. Contact with the affected body of water should be avoided.

The KDHE recommends the following precautions be taken when a warning status is issued:

  • 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.

Watch:

  • Carbondale City Lake (Strowbridge), Osage County
  • Louisburg Old Lake (City Lake), Miami County
  • Marion Reservoir, Marion County

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.

The KDHE recommends the following precautions be taken when a watch status is issued:

  • 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 portions only.

Hazard:

There are currently no bodies of water under a hazard status in Kansas.

hazard means that a harmful algal bloom is present and extreme conditions exist.

The KDHE recommends the following precautions be taken when a hazard status is issued:

  • Signage should be posted at all public access locations
  • It is recommended that either a portion of the lake or the entire lake or zone be closed to the public.
  • In some cases, the adjacent land should be closed as well. Actual setback distances will be determined on a site-specific basis, if necessary.
  • When partial closures (i.e., beach or cove) are issued, the remaining lake or zone area will carry a warning status.

The 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.

If you observe a scum or paint-like surface on the water, small floating blue-green clumps or filaments in the water, or if the water is an opaque green, the KDHE and the KDWP says to avoid contact and keep pets away. These are indications that a harmful bloom may be present.

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.

For information on blue-green algae and reporting potential harmful algal blooms, click here.