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Marion Reservoir

Blue-green algae warning remains in effect

Skiing, swimming, and wading continue to be banned at Marion Reservoir because of toxic blue-green algae.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment renewed its warning Thursday on the basis of tests performed Monday.

The warning has been in effect since June 28. A less serious advisory had been in effect May 31 through June 21. Only one week this summer has not seen either a warning or a less serious advisory at the reservoir.

Under a blue-green algae warning, reservoir facilities remain open even though beaches are closed.

KDHE recommends that if reservoir water contacts human or animal skin, the area should be washed with clean drinking water as soon as possible.

Fish caught during an outbreak are safe to eat if they are rinsed with clean water and if only the fillet is eaten, KDHE advises. Anglers should wash their hands with clean water after handling fish caught during an outbreak,

Other lakes with blue-green algae warnings are Chisholm Creek North Lake, Sedgwick County; Harvey County East Lake, Harvey County; Logan City Lake, Phillips County; Memorial/Veterans Lake, Barton County; and South Lake Park, Johnson County

Lakes on less severe blue-green algae advisories are the northern portion of Milford Reservoir; Atchison County Park Lake; Brown County State Fishing Lake; Centralia Lake, Nemaha County; Herington Reservoir, Dickinson County; Lake Scott State Park, Scott County; and Lovewell Reservoir, Jewell County.

Blue-green algae, which also can be reddish purple or brown, are simple, naturally occurring aquatic plants — technically, bacterial plankton, not algae. When nutrient and light levels are especially high, they reproduce rapidly in what is called a bloom, creating what often is referred to as “pond scum.”

Some blooms are harmless and merit no warnings, but others potentially contain toxins that can be released when the blue-green algae are killed. Toxins vary with the species of blue-green algae. Most have relatively minor effects, but some — such as anabaena — can be lethal.

Health effects occur when surface scum or water containing high levels of toxins is swallowed, contacts the skin or is inhaled as airborne droplets.

Most people have “allergic”-type reactions such as intestinal problems, respiratory problems, or skin irritations. However, symptoms of the extremely fast-acting neurotoxin can include coordination loss, paralysis, muscle twitching, shortness of breath, and even death.

Marion, Hillsboro, and Peabody all get their drinking water from Marion Reservoir. Costly improvements at treatment facilities make it highly unlikely that neurotoxins from a bloom can make their way into municipal drinking water.

Last modified July 26, 2012

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