Doom & Bloom: Toxic Algae in KY Lakes

Before you pull out the pontoon for a booze cruise, put on a hazmat suit. Four Kentucky lakes (Taylorsville, Barren, Rough River and Nolin) have been found to contain toxic algal blooms despite a relatively mild Kentucky summer.

Regarding the algae in question, WFPL reports:

This algae is a type of cyanobacteria that produces toxins. It can cause nose and skin irritation, as well as other illnesses in humans and animals. This summer marks the first time the Army Corps of Engineers has tested all the lakes for the algae; it tested Taylorsville Lake last summer. Because of the lack of data, Corps biologist Jade Young said it’s hard to say whether this is a new problem.

Excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers have led to excess algae and water hypoxia, leading to massive fish kills, off the Gulf Coast, East coast deltas, and the Oregon coast. Issues in Kentucky lakes likely result from fertilizers from farms, lawns, and golf courses.

The Courier-Journal reports that this is the first time such an issue has been reported in Kentucky:

Although a documented problem in Indiana, Ohio and the upper Midwest, this is the first time this type of harmful bloom, a blue-green algae called cyanobacteria, has been detected in Kentucky, state and federal officials said.

And while no algae-related illnesses have been confirmed by the corps, spokesman Carol Labashosky said there have been several reports this summer, including a pediatrician who said two young siblings developed a rash and diarrhea after swimming in Taylorsville Lake.

Despite these issues, lakes have been kept open to recreation with public warnings against drinking the water, eating the fish, or excessive exposure to the bacteria by humans or pets.

With significant safety issues already existing in Kentucky’s waterways, the Kentucky Waterways Alliance and the Army Corps of Engineers have their work cut out for them to insure Kentuckians a safe future.

Further Reading:

Courier-Journal

WFPL

WHAS

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