Lake under warning, reservoir under watch
For the second consecutive week, Marion County Lake is under a blue-green algae warning, and Marion Reservoir is under a less-serious watch.
Blue-green algae advisories are updated each Thursday afternoon and remain in effect until the following Thursday.
Both bodies of water have been under non-stop advisories most of the summer -- a summer in which Marion County has seemed to become the blue-green algae capital of Kansas.
Only two other Kansas lakes are under warnings this week: portions of Milford Reservoir, primarily in Geary County, and Wolf Pond in Barton County. Watches impact just three other Kansas lakes: Overbrook City Lake in Osage County, Sam’s Pond in Syracuse, and Webster Lake in Rooks County.
All other lakes appear to have blue-green algae levels below what prompts state health inspectors to issue alerts.
While the lakes are under advisories, camping sites will remain available, and boat ramps will be open. However, beaches will be closed, and direct contact with water via swimming or skiing will be discouraged.
Anglers should limit water contact and thoroughly wash hands and arms in clean water after fishing or handling fish. Fillets are safe to eat if rinsed, but heads and organs should be discarded.
Public water supplies for Marion, Hillsboro, and Peabody all use Marion Reservoir as their source. However, treatment procedures were changed several years ago to make municipal water safe to consume even during algae blooms.
Blooms develop rapidly and may float around a lake. If there is scum or a paint-like surface, or the water appears bright green, a harmful bloom may be present.
Blue-green algae, technically known as cyanobacteria, come in several varieties, most of which release toxins when they die.
With some species, the toxins are mild irritants. With others, they are potentially fatal neurotoxins. The exact species in any bloom cannot immediately be determined.
While no humans have died in Kansas during blue-green algae blooms, many dogs have died, and human illnesses have been reported.
Symptoms in humans include sore throat, congestion, cough, wheezing, difficulty breathing, itchy or red skin, blistering, hives or other rashes, earache, agitation, headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and eye irritation.