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  • Last modified 2370 days ago (May 24, 2012)

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Beaches closed because of toxic algae

Boating and fishing still open

Staff writer

The beach area at Marion County Park and Lake and beach areas at Marion Reservoir are closed because of blue-green algae after testing by Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Both bodies of water are open for fishing and boating. Reservoir office administrator Torey Hett said small children and dogs should stay out of the reservoir water.

Marion County Park and Lake Superintendent Steve Hudson said the toxic algae is formed through a variety of causes. The first is fertilizer and other substances draining into the lake from pastures. The county has tried to curb this drainage by allowing tall grasses to grow along drainage routes.

He has also tried to grow a ring of tall grasses around the lake to deter geese roosting in the water.

“We’ve had geese for years out here,” Hudson said. “This is something new.”

Weather conditions affect blue-green algae. The algae grows in hot, dry, and calm conditions. Hett and Hudson both said the wind from this past week has cleared the water around lakeshores.

“It looks a lot better now,” Hudson said. “You could almost walk on it last week.”

Hudson is hoping for a heavy rain to flush algae out of the lake through the spillway.

Both Hudson and Hett were optimistic about conditions improving at Marion County lakes and swimming being opened up this summer. Tests are currently being conducted by the KDHE on water from the east side of the county lake dam and north shore near the beach, Hudson said.

However, with another hot and dry summer predicted by metereologists, Hett said the reservoir could struggle with blue-green algae all summer.

“It’s up in the air; we hope not,” Hett said. “The sun doesn’t help it — it helps everything grow, including blue-green algae.”

Marion County Health Department Administrator Diedre Serene presented information to Marion County Commission about lake closings. She said the lakes could be closed all summer. She is not sure why the lakes here are more susceptible to blue green algae than other nearby lakes. In conversations with Harvey County officials, Serene was told Harvey County’s lakes have never had a problem with blue-green algae.

In other business:

  • Serene was presented with the opportunity to take over Dickinson County’s Childcare grant. Marion County has a similar grant where a Health Department official surveys homes with children for child care needs. Serene recommended the county not pursue Dickinson County’s program because the county would have to move a part time person to full time. The driving radius would also increase, adding to expenses. Serene was not sure what either Dickinson or Marion County’s childcare grants would amount to because she is waiting for a budget decision from the state.
  • There has been one report of rabies filed in the county; a horse tested positive for the disease. Serene asked the commission about policies for confining pets who showed signs of carrying the disease. Pet owners should confine animals showing signs of the disease away from other animals or people. They are not required to take animals to a veterinarian for confinement. Failure to comply with this rule would result legal action, but Serene said everyone has complied thus far.

Last modified May 24, 2012

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