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Harmful Algal Blooms Found in More Kentucky Lakes

Barren River Lake.

Barren River Lake.

Photo by Deryck Rodgers, courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Harmful algal blooms have been found in more Kentucky lakes, adding to the state's previously documented problems with too much blue-green algae.

First, Taylorsville Lake received a warning — the first such alert ever for a Kentucky lake. Now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Kentucky Division of Water are warning recreational users of potentially toxic situations at Rough River Lake, Barren River Lake and Nolin Lake.

According to Naturally Connected, the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection blog, the more typical green algae, which comes in many forms and may look like underwater moss, stringy mats or floating scum, is no harmful to humans or animals. Cyanobacteria, on the other hand, looks like slicks of opaque, bright-green paint, but closer inspection often reveals the grainy, sawdust-like appearance of individual colonies of bacteria. The color of the algae may also appear as red or brown.

The lakes, which combined draw about 5 million visitors annually, remain open, but the following precautions are recommended:

  • Avoid contact with visible algae and do not swallow water while swimming.
  • Take a bath or shower with warm, soapy water after coming in contact with water in ponds and lakes, especially before preparing or consuming food.
  • Prevent pets and livestock from entering the water or drinking untreated water from these sources. Livestock, pets and wild animals can be poisoned by the toxins produced by some algal blooms. Dogs are particularly susceptible to blue-green algae poisoning because the scum can attach to their coats and be swallowed during self-cleaning.
  • Remove fish skin and organs before cooking and do not consume or allow pets/animals to consume the organs or skin.

Federal and state officials told The Courier-Journal (http://cjky.it/168xZYs) that this is the first time this type of bloom has been detected in the lower Midwest, although it has been documented in the upper Midwest states of Ohio and Indiana.

The Corps officials are urging people using the lakes to take precautions. Updates on lake conditions can be found here.

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