TOPEKA (KSNT) – State health officials say several Kansas lakes are impacted by blue-green algae in a recent report.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) released an updated list of lakes that contain the presence of blue-green algae or harmful algal blooms (HABs). This toxic water hazard poses many health risks to both humans and animals.

Lakes under warning-level status for blue-green algae include:

  • Big Eleven Lake, Wyandotte County 
  • Fossil Lake, Russell County 
  • Frazier Lake, Grant County
  • Harvey County East Lake, Harvey County
  • Lake Afton, Sedgwick County 
  • Lovewell Lake, Jewell County 
  • South Lake (Overland Park), Johnson County 

Lakes under watch-level status for blue-green algae include:

  • Amesbury Lake, Johnson County 
  • Horsethief Reservoir, Hodgeman County (Added Oct. 20)

Lakes that are now clear of blue-green algae:

  • Lake Shawnee, Shawnee County (Lifted Oct. 20)

Lakes can be classified at different levels in Kansas for the presence of blue-green algae: watch, warning and hazard. The KDHE recommends different precautions to those who might come into contact with lakes afflicted by the algae:

  • Watch
    • 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 clean water and eat fillet portions only. 
  • Warning
    • 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.  
  • Hazard
    • 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 the KDHE, toxins emitted by a HAB can cause rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, sore throat and a headache. If you or a pet comes into contact with the algae, rinse the impacted area clean with fresh water. If you come into contact with a HAB, reach out to the KDHE by filing a report online here. For more Kansas Outdoors, click here.