Home » Potentially harmful algal blooms identified in several Kentucky lakes

Potentially harmful algal blooms identified in several Kentucky lakes

Division of Water advises lake visitors to make informed decisions

FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 20, 2014) — The Kentucky Division of Water and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have confirmed the presence of potentially harmful algal blooms, or cyanobacteria at levels exceeding recommended safety thresholds at several lakes in Kentucky — Barren River Lake, Nolin Reservoir, Green River Lake, Rough River Lake, Taylorsville Lake and Greenbriar Creek Reservoir in Montgomery County.

An example of a body of water with harmful algal bloom (HAB).
An example of a body of water with harmful algal bloom (HAB).

Cell counts at one site at Taylorsville Lake exceeded 1,000,000 cells/ml. The World Health Organization has determined that “moderate probability of experiencing adverse health effects” exists when cyanobacteria cell counts exceed 100,000 cells/ml. The Department of Public Health, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Department of Parks, and other stakeholders have been informed of these conditions.

These lakes remain open to the public. Visitors should be aware of the potential health issues and take precautions.

The following guidelines are recommended to avoid exposure to HABs:

  • Direct contact with affected water, including swimming, wading, fishing, paddling, diving and water skiing may result in symptoms. It is advisable to avoid contact with water that has unusual color or where blue-green bacteria have been identified, even if the water appears to be clear.
  • People who are prone to respiratory allergies or asthma should avoid areas with harmful algal blooms. Children may be particularly sensitive.
  • If contact has been made with water containing blue-green algae, wash off with fresh water. In some cases, skin irritation will appear after prolonged exposure. If symptoms persist, consult your local health care provider.
  • Fish fillets (not organs) may be consumed after the fillets have been rinsed in clean, non-lake water. It is advisable to wash any parts of your body that have come into contact with the fish.
  • Prevent pets and livestock from coming into contact with HAB-infested waters.

Some cyanobacteria produce toxins that may be hazardous to animals and humans. Symptoms of exposure to harmful algae may include gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea; skin and eye irritation; and/or throat irritation or breathing difficulties.

If you are concerned that you have symptoms that are a result of exposure to HABs, please see your doctor and call your local health department.

DOW has been working with a number of agencies to develop an HAB testing protocol for Kentucky lakes as well as public notification procedures when HABs are identified at levels of concern. The protocol will consist of mechanisms to perform monitoring and to issue “advisories” when cell counts exceed 20,000 cells/ml and “cautions” when they exceed 100,000 cells/ml at affected lakes.