Pomona Lake in Osage County under active blue-green algae warning

Pomona Lake in Osage County is under a blue-green algae warning.
Pomona Lake in Osage County is under a blue-green algae warning.(IDPH, EPA)
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 5:01 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Pomona Lake in Osage County is under an active warning for blue-green algae while Milford Lake Zone A in Geary County is under an active watch for blue-green algae.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) have issued a public health advisory update due to blue-green algae in the following areas:

  • Pomona Lake, Osage County (Added June 8)
  • Big Eleven Lake, Wyandotte County (Added June 8)
  • Webster Lake, Rooks County (Added June 8)
  • Wellington Lake, Sumner County (Added June 8)
  • Mount Hope – Woodland Park Pond, Sedgwick County (Added June 8)

The areas under an active Watch advisory for blue-green algae include:

  • Milford Lake Zone A, Dickinson & Geary Counties (Added June 8)
  • Augusta Santa Fe Lake, Butler County (Added June 8)
  • Harvey County East Lake, Harvey County (Added June 8)
  • Marion Lake (Reservoir), Marion County (Lowered June 8)

KDHE indicated a harmful algal bloom (HAB) may look like blue, bright green, brown or red foam, scum or paint floating on the water. Blooms can develop rapidly. KDHE urges if the water appears suspicious or there is decaying algae on the shore, avoid contact and keep dogs away.

According to KDHE, these toxins can be absorbed by ingestion, inhalation of aerosols, and skin contact. Symptoms vary depending upon the type of exposure, such as direct contact, ingestion, or inhalation but can include rash, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, sore throat and headache. If a resident or their dog come into contact with blue-green algae, rinse the area with clean, fresh water. Suspected HAB-related health incidents, whether human or animal, regardless of the season, should be reported at kdhe.ks.gov/1163.

The state of Kansas recognizes three advisory levels:

KDHE said a Hazard status indicates that a harmful algal bloom is present, and extreme conditions exist.

  • Signage should be posted at all public access locations.
  • It is recommended that either a portion of the lake or the entire lake or zone, be closed to the public.
  • In some cases, the adjacent land should be closed as well. Actual setback distances will be determined on a site-specific basis, if necessary.
  • When partial closures (i.e., beach or cove) are issued, the remaining lake or zone area will carry a warning status.

According to KDHE, a Warning status indicates that conditions are unsafe for human and pet exposure.  Contact with the waterbody should be avoided.

When a warning is issued, KDHE recommends the following precautions be taken:

  • Signage should be posted at all public access locations.
  • Inhalation of spray or aerosols may be harmful.
  • Lake water is not safe to drink for pets or livestock.
  • Lake water, regardless of blue-green algae status, should never be consumed by humans.
  • Water contact should be avoided.
  • Fish may be eaten if they are rinsed with clean water and only the fillet portion is consumed, while all other parts are discarded.
  • Do not allow pets to eat dried algae.
  • If lake water contacts skin, wash with clean water as soon as possible.
  • Avoid areas of visible algae accumulation.

Staff at KDHE said a Watch status means that blue-green algae have been detected and a harmful algal bloom is present or likely to develop. People are encouraged to avoid areas of algae accumulation and keep pets and livestock away from the water.

During the watch status, KDHE recommends the following precautions be taken:

  • Signage should be posted at all public access locations.
  • Water may be unsafe for humans/animals.
  • Avoid areas of algae accumulation and do not let people/pets eat dried algae or drink contaminated water.
  • Swimming, wading, skiing and jet skiing are discouraged near visible blooms.
  • Boating and fishing are safe. However, inhalation of the spray may affect some individuals. Avoid direct contact with water, and wash with clean water after any contact.
  • Clean fish well with potable water and eat fillet portion only.

Advisories are lifted when cell densities and toxin concentrations dissipate to levels below the Watch thresholds.

KDHE said they investigate publicly accessible bodies of water for blue-green algae when the agency receives reports of potential algae blooms in Kansas lakes. Based on credible field observation and sampling results, KDHE reports on potentially harmful conditions.

If you observe a scum or paint-like surface on the water, small floating blue-green clumps or filaments in the water, or if the water is an opaque green, avoid contact and keep pets away. These are indications that a harmful bloom may be present. Pet owners should be aware that animals that swim in or drink water affected by a harmful algal bloom or eat dried algae along the shore may become seriously ill or die.

For information on blue-green algae and reporting potential harmful algal blooms, visit kdhe.ks.gov/HAB.