Algae toxin found in city’s water
State issues notice, but says water is safe to drink
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has issued a public notice for Marion drinking water because of low levels of microcystins, a blue-green algae toxin, but said the water is safe to drink.
The water remains acceptable for drinking, food preparation and household uses because testing shows an “extremely low level” of microcystins in the city water supply, KDHE said.
Jason Wheeler, head of the city water treatment plant, signed up to have water tested for the toxins more often than other cities, city administrator Roger Holter said.
Blue-green algae doesn’t release toxins until it dies.
According to state department of health spokesman Kristi Pankratz, Marion’s raw water sample tested at 0.259 parts per billion and the finished sample was 0.08 parts per billion.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 10-day Health Advisory levels are 0.3 micrograms per liter of microcystins for bottle fed infants and children under 6 years old.
Holter said treatment for microcystins has been increased since the most recent test.
“Our treatment process takes out the vast majority of it and we have been very fortunate that most of the times our readings are so small they can’t be detected,” Holter said.
“This time one sampling, the water had it higher.”
“Raw and finished water will be tested two to three times per week until water analysis indicates no detections in the finished water,” Pankratz said.
“Repeat sampling provides information needed to adjust treatment processes. Sampling may be increased if analysis indicates toxin levels above the health advisories.”
Blue-green algae blooms at Marion Reservoir, the source of Marion’s water supply, are the cause of the contamination, KDHE said.
According to the World Health Organization, boiling water does not remove microcystins and may concentrate the toxin.
Water will continue to be sampled to confirm the toxins are below EPA’s 10-day health advisory level of .3 micrograms per liter for bottle-fed infants and children under 6 years old.
An EPA fact sheet on toxins from harmful algae blooms said nursing mothers, pregnant women, people with pre-existing liver conditions or on dialysis, and the elderly should follow the same precautions for infants and young children in the event a health advisory is issued because they could experience adverse effects at lower concentrations.
Holter said KDHE is trying to educate people because so many lakes are under blue-green algae watches and warnings.
Pankratz said the city of Hillsboro, which also gets water from Marion Reservoir, was notified of Marion’s test results. This lets Hillsboro begin proactive adjustments in water treatment.
“We are waiting on finished water samples from Hillsboro,” she said.
Hillsboro city administrator Larry Paine said he notified senior water technician Morgan Marler as soon as he heard about Marion’s test results from KDHE but Marler had already made treatment adjustments.
“When the state first identified the expansion of the algae bloom she changed her treatment method,” Paine said.
Water provided to Marion County Improvement District No. 2 is included in the public notice but KDHE’s statement said that water is acceptable for use also.
Last modified June 26, 2019