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  • Last modified 52 days ago (June 2, 2017)

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Reservoir closed after toxic algae bloom

Marion Reservoir and all recreation and camping sites within 100 feet of the water were ordered closed indefinitely Thursday evening because of the year's first reported blue-green algae bloom. The closure appears to be more signficant than occurred during various warnings issued in previous years.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment reportedly received complaints Tuesday and conducted tests in response. Results indicated high levels of blue-green algae, technically known as cyanobacteria. When they die, varieties of cyanobacteria release toxins that can cause anything from minor skin irritation, for some varieties, to potentially lethal brain damage. Exactly which variety is present typically is not known from initial testing.

Marion County Park and Lake is not affected by the closure. The public water supplies for the cities of Marion, Hillsboro, and Peabody all use Marion Reservoir as their source. However, treatment procedures were changed several years ago to make municipal water safe to consume even during algae blooms.

Blooms develop rapidly and may float around a lake. If there is scum or a paint-like surface or the water appears bright green, a harmful bloom may be present. Humans and pets should not swim in or drink water or touch or eat dried algae along the shore. Skin that comes in contact with lake water should be washed with clean water as soon as possible. Only the fillet portion of fish taken should be eaten and only after it is rinsed with clean water.

While no humans have died in Kansas during blue-green algae blooms, many dogs have died, and human illnesses have been reported. Symptoms in humans include sore throat, congestion, cough, wheezing, difficulty breathing, itchy or red skin, blistering, hives or other rashes, and well as earache, agitation, headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and eye irritation.

The last algae warning at Marion Reservoir was issued June 20, 2016. It was downgraded to a watch July 14 and lifted July 21. The reservoir had been under an algae watch or warning continuously from May 2016 until then.

Last modified June 2, 2017

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