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There are as many lakes that degraded after aerators were installed as have shown improvement.

In lakes with recreational use, a bloom will cause many people to think twice about swimming and boating. Most blooms look very unattractive and smell bad besides. However, areas where bloom material is collecting represent a greater risk of exposure to toxins. It is advisable that such areas be posted to warn the public to avoid any activities, that expose them to contact with the algae or water, until the bloom goes away. Be aware this may take a couple weeks to months if the lake is very enriched with nutrients. The areas where algal material collects may also change over time due to the prevailing winds and weather. Blooms often can appear to have gone away after a rain, only to visibly reappear in a couple days.

To correct the problem of excessive algae growth and blue-green algae blooms requires treating the cause and not the symptoms, although you will likely need to resort to symptomatic treatment for the problem as well (advanced water treatment, alternate sources, recreation postings). Reductions of nutrients reaching the lake from the watershed represent the ultimate means to prevent these problems. These reductions can be achieved through advanced wastewater treatment, management practices on farmland and pasture, and storm water controls. Effective nutrient management and reduction in most watersheds will require plenty of community involvement and education of the public.

How can I find out what algae is in my lake?

Although blooms of blue-green algae species often have some distinctive macroscopic features, identification of which species are present requires a microscopic examination by someone with experience in algal taxonomy. Few commercial laboratories presently have algal taxonomists on staff, so universities and state agencies are the most promising resource. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) does possess staff trained to identify common blue-green algae and have offered this expertise to communities and water suppliers for over 20 years now. Contact your nearest KDHE District Office, or the KDHE central office (numbers below).

Sample collection can take place in several locations, depending on the situation. Samples can be taken from the bloom material collecting along shore to characterize an area of maximum risk. Samples related to water supply should be taken near water intake structures, or from multiple depths if the intake has multiple ports. Samples from the open water or from swimming beaches characterize the lake “as a whole” or the risk associated with specific recreation activities. All samples should be collected, if possible, from just beneath the surface (1 to 2 inches), although samples from a surface scum may require skimming the water at the surface layer. If you are collecting samples for identification, discuss specific needs with whoever will be doing the identification for you.

Contact Numbers

North Central (Salina) Northwest (Hays) Southeast (Chanute)

785-827-9639 Northeast (Lawrence)

785-842-4600

785-625-5663 South Central (Wichita) 620-431-2390 Southwest (Dodge City)

316-337-6020 620-225-0596

KDHE Central Office (Topeka)

District Offices

785-296-5565/296-6603

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