Local lakes contain toxic levels of blue-green algae

Toxic blue-green algae could put a damper on your weekend plans if they involve a trip to one of several local lakes.

Six lakes statewide — including Colwich City Lake, Riggs Park Lake in Haysville and Buhler City Lake — are under a warning status for toxic levels of blue-green algae, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Friday in a media release.

Direct water contact, including wake boarding, skiing and swimming, is prohibited in lakes under a “warning” status. Marinas, lakeside businesses and park camping facilities will remain open.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment recommends visitors take the following precautions in areas under a warning status:

• Humans, pets and livestock should not drink lake water.

• Water contact is prohibited.

• Fish caught in the lakes should be cleaned thoroughly and only the filet portions should be eaten.

• If lake water contacts skin or pet fur, wash thoroughly with clean potable water as soon as possible.

• Avoid areas where algae blooms are visible.

Colwich Mayor Terry Spexarth said he has not received any reports of humans or pets being harmed by the algae at Colwich City Lake. He said swimming and boating are prohibited at the lake even when it is not under an algae warning.

Fishing is still allowed, and Spexarth said fish caught in the lake are safe to eat, as long as the fish is cleaned and the skin is discarded.

Blue-green algae is caused by phosphorus and nitrogen that enter local watersheds, said Miranda Steele, director of communications at the KDHE. Steele said the phosphorus and nitrogen get into the water through farming and agricultural activities.

To decrease the levels of these elements in local watersheds, Steele said individuals can remove pet waste from public parks and private lawns, and use phosphorus-free fertilizer in their lawns and gardens.

Other lakes currently under a blue-green algae warning include Logan City Lake in Phillips County, Memorial Park Lake in Barton County and South Park Lake in Johnson County.