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Blue-green algae found in Antioch Park's South Lake, warning signs posted
POSTED: 08/10/2012
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment recently tested for and found blue-green algae in the South Lake at Antioch Park, 6501 Antioch, Merriam.

The samples were collected on Thursday, Aug. 3, at the request of Johnson County Park & Recreation District Field Biologist Matt Garrett and the results reported on Aug. 9 at 3 pm by KDHE found blue-green algae levels at the public health warning level. This is the higher of two categories with advisory being the lower level. As the result of this finding, KDHE warning signs have been posted near the lake notifying the public that lake conditions are unsafe and that water contact should not occur, either for humans or animals.

The signs warn that harmful algae is present and that people and animals may get sick if they have contact with the algae. Additionally, the signs warn against swimming and wading and say if people or pets do have contact with the water, they should wash with clean, potable water as soon as possible. Fishermen are also warned to clean the fish taken from the lake well and discard the guts.

Other JCPRD lakes are being observed and monitored, JCPRD's Garrett said. Testing by KDHE will be requested when warranted.

While there are a number of chemicals marketed to control algae, once an algae bloom is present, killing it will cause toxins to be released into the water and the blooms frequently return in short order anyway. Garrett said in this case, park officials are waiting for precipitation to reduce the excessive nutrients in the lake.

"Due to drought conditions, there will not be a change until it rains," he said.

According to KDHE materials, blue-green algae are a natural part of water-based ecosystems, but can become a problem when the nutrients phosphorus and nitrogen are present in concentrations above naturally-occurring levels. Under these conditions, the algae can "bloom" or grow very quickly to extreme numbers. While summer heat and calm water do not cause algae blooms, these conditions make the blooms more likely.

Blue-green algae, which is actually a bacterium, produce toxins which can cause skin reactions, respiratory problems, diarrhea, vomiting, or even death if ingested, especially in children or the elderly. There have been numerous incidences reported in Kansas, dealing with pet deaths after drinking lake water with blue green algae, and skin rashes on people.

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