• Last modified 3712 days ago (June 18, 2009)


Atrazine less a peril, expert says

Algae a bigger worry in cities’ water supply

Staff writer

Atrazine, which the cities of Marion and Hillsboro are suing over, is of relatively little concern to local water quality, a K-State professor says.

Philip Barnes will speak Thursday night in Marion. He says the cities have some of the best source water in the region.

Sedimentation and blue-green algae are greater concerns, Barnes, an associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering, says.

Barnes thinks the cities’ class-action lawsuit against the maker of atrazine sends the wrong message to farmers.

“This bothers me a little bit,” he says.

Farmers in the area have done a good job limiting atrazine runoff in recent years, Barnes says.

Sedimentation risks gradually filling a reservoir. Examples can be seen in parts of John Redmond Reservoir. Marion Reservoir is especially susceptible because it is comparatively shallow.

Blue-green algae is a hazard because when dead algae decompose, they give off toxins that can be dangerous to wildlife, pets, and possibly humans, Barnes says.

Algae worries began in 2003, when a bloom caused many Marion County residents to turn to other water sources.

Reservoir managers can slow algae growth by discharging water from the reservoir, which they have done this year. Releasing water causes the lake to circulate, making conditions less desirable for algae.

Releasing water can have a negative effect on recreation unless extra rain compensates for the loss of water, he said.

He also has monitored E. coli in the reservoir and tributaries. This is a surrogate for monitoring cryptosporidium, which can cause acute diarrhea.

Cattle are a potential source of cryptosporidium, but he reports it is not a problem at the reservoir, despite the number of cattle around the lake.

Barnes will report about water quality of the reservoir at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Marion City Building basement. The meeting, open to the public, will be sponsored by the area’s Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy group.

Last modified June 18, 2009