ST. PARIS – Kiser Lake remains under a public health advisory after blue-green algae toxins were discovered exceeding recommended threshold levels last week.
The Ohio Department of Health issued the advisory July 8 following water quality testing by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, according to Jeff Webb, Champaign Health District commissioner.
Children, pregnant or nursing women, people with certain medical conditions and pets should not swim or wade in the water at Kiser Lake. Warning signs were are posted.
The lake is under an “orange level” advisory, Webb said, with the toxins at 14 parts per billion (ppb). The orange level range is from 6 to 20 ppb.
“That doesn’t preclude healthy adults from being in the water,” he said. “It also doesn’t prevent people from fishing and even eating the fish they catch. But for that segment of the population, it is recommended they stay out of the water.”
Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, are common in Ohio lakes, ponds and slow-moving rivers, Webb said. Though they do not all produce toxins, some can cause harmful algal blooms. The blooms occur when there is a shallow body of fresh water, warm temperatures, sunlight and excessive amounts of nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen in the water.
Tthe number of algae can dramatically increase or “bloom” in a body of water with the right conditions. Some are visible as thick mats or scum on the surface of the water. The mats vary in color, such as bluish-green, bright green, red or maroon.
Kiser Lake does not commonly have advisories for algae, Webb said. Other area lakes, such as Grand Lake St. Marys, tend to have the advisories crop up more often. The hot weather spell contributed, and water flowing from smaller creeks into Kiser Lake likely added to the mix.
“Creeks draw nutrients from the land and deposit them in the larger body of water,” he said. “So if you get larger amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen in the water, that feeds the (algae) growth, just like any fertilizer feeds growth in the garden.”
The ODNR will test the water weekly, and the health district will continue to update the public on the advisory, Webb said. Signs are posted at the Kiser Lake beach and individuals can call the health district at 937-484-1605.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.