Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Local News

June 25, 2014

Blue-green algal blooms still in the area

GLASGOW — Water lovers are urged to use caution when visiting Barren River Lake in the coming weeks due to the presence of harmful blue-green algal blooms.

This is not the first time such a caution has been issued. A similar one was made last year by officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“The levels remain at caution level. There’s really no change from last year,” said Alan Ramey, lead park ranger with the Corps at Barren River Lake. “We will continue to keep those cautions posted until there is a change in the levels.”

Those who venture into the water are urged to wash afterward with warm, soapy water to decrease the likelihood of becoming sick after contacting the harmful algal blooms or HABs, he said.

Jade Young, a limnologist with the Corps of Engineers’ water quality office in Louisville, said the World Health Organization has developed criteria the Corps of Engineers uses regarding HABs. There is a moderate probability of experiencing negative health effects when coming in contact with HABs, she said.

Livestock and pets are also susceptible of getting sick by becoming in contact with HABs.

“The algae can attach to their coats and because they are self-cleaning they can ingest it,” Ramey said.

Those who fish in the lake are urged to remove the skin of the fish and the organs and to wash all fishing equipment with warm, soapy water to avoid contact with the HABs, he said.

Information on the Corps of Engineers’ website says all freshwater lakes inhabit native blue-green algae species which are capable of producing HABs. Several of the species can at times produce toxic chemicals, which are also called cyanotoxins, that are harmful to the human nervous system, the liver and the skin, as well as other animals. The cyanotoxins can also be harmful to the lake ecosystem and can cause a depletion of oxygen, resulting in large fish kills, the website said.

Contributing factors promoting the formation of HABs are excessive sunlight, warm temperatures, low-water or low-flow conditions and excessive nutrients, the website said.

“The algae growth is fueled by nitrogen and phosphorous, which are nutrients just like what we put on our yards and gardens,” Young said. “We know that is a factor affecting it. The thing about the harmful algal blooms is there is something in the water that is allowing the blue green algae to gain dominance over the other algae and that is something researchers are trying to understand right now.”

Scott Young, general manager of the Glasgow Water Co., said the water treatment plant is equipped to remove any harmful algae contaminants in the water.

“It’s a normal process of our daily operations,” he said. “We remove that type of contaminant and other contaminants on a daily basis. It does not pose a threat to our finished drinking water.”

Barren River Lake is not the only body of water in the state affected by HABs.  For more information about HABs and lakes affected by them, visit the Corps of Engineers’ website at www.lrl.usace.army.mil.

– Daily Times’ reporter Melinda Overstreet also contributed to this article.

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