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  • Last modified 33 days ago (June 19, 2019)

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Blue-green algae growth adds to woes at Marion Reservoir

Flooding at Marion Reservoir has washed out any hope of opening campgrounds by July 4, and now runoff brought by heavy rains has contributed to a bloom of dangerous blue-green algae.

Kevin McCoy assistant lake manager of the Army Corps of Engineers, said algae was spotted at the reservoir this past weekend and reported to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

KDHE scientists conducted tests, and the department issued a warning for both Marion and Keith Sebelius Reservoirs on Monday — days ahead of its expected Thursday release of results.

“We had two bodies of water impacted and we decided it would be in the best interest of the public to notify them,” said Kristi Pankratz director of communications at KDHE.

She said this seasons’ heavy rains had increased “nutrient loading” of the area’s bodies of water because of by runoff of nutrients such as animal waste.

This can lead to an outbreak of harmful algae as temperatures warm.

“If we get heavy rains again, we will get more nutrient loading,” she said. “More water also brings more of the bad stuff, too.”
KDHE recommends the following precautions be taken:

  • The water is not safe for pets or livestock to drink.
  • Lake water, regardless of blue-green algae status, should never be consumed.
  • Contact with the water should be avoided.
  • Fish may be eaten if they are rinsed with clean water any only the filet is consumed.
  • Do not allow pets to eat dried algae.
  • If water contacts skin, wash with clean water as soon as possible.
  • Avoid areas of visible contamination.

McCoy said staff at the reservoir had posted warning signs. He said the bloom would complicate any post-flooding cleanup efforts.

Meanwhile, the reservoir is “not losing water very fast,” despite a recent lessening of rainfall, he said. A floodgate was opened June 13 and raised 6 inches.

There is a chance of more rains the rest of this week, according to the National Weather Service in Wichita.

“Every time it rain it sets us back a little more,” “ he said.

The reservoir was more than six feet above normal Thursday afternoon.

Last modified June 19, 2019

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