TOPEKA (KSNT) – Blue-green algae has become an all-too familiar problem for Kansas lakes this summer, leading to increased efforts to test waterbodies to determine if they are safe for use.
FOX 43 News got an exclusive look into the testing process by accompanying members of Kansas’ Harmful Algal Bloom Response team with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Samples were collected at 10 a.m. on Monday which is the time when algal blooms are most visible.
“We do our sampling during the day,” said Katlynn Decker, a member of the KDHE response team. “Usually mid-morning when the sun has risen and the cells are going to rise to the surface, and we’re going to be able to see those blooms within the water body.”
The process begins with reports from the public. Within the next few days, KDHE collects and tests the samples. The results are analyzed and the advisory status is determined.
“Even if there is an advisory on a lake, it’s important to keep an eye out for those, uh, the common appearances of blue-green algae,” Decker said.
If you decide to visit a waterbody like Lake Shawnee, keep an eye out for the common signs of blue-green algae presence. If you see a blueish-green surface scum then its most likely a harmful algal bloom. Stay clear of the area and reach out to the KDHE.
“If you do see any of them, then we have a hotline where you can report the complaint of the possible algae bloom to our website,” Decker said.
Blue-green algae is toxic to humans and animals. It can even be fatal to dogs.
“It can affect your kidneys and you can also get some different skin irritants,” Decker said.
Lakes across Kansas are monitored by the KDHE from April to October every year. Lakes that test positive may be ranked as being under a watch, warning or hazard level.
“When in doubt, just stay out,” Decker said.
To learn more about toxic blue-green algae, click here.