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Algae toxins not a problem in county lakes

August 27, 2012

MARSHALL CO. — Early in August, volunteers recruited by the Marshall County Lakes and Waters Council took samples from county lakes so that the water could be tested for toxins caused by blue-green algae.
Wednesday, Cyndi Wagner from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) visited the MCLWC meeting in order to address the findings and explain the blue-green algae.
“What I can tell you is that these levels are all very low,” said Wagner to those gathered at the Marshall County Building Wednesday evening.
Although Lake Latonka had the highest levels of toxins out of the sampled lakes, at .90 micrograms per liter it is still well below the dangerous mark of 6 micrograms per liter. At that point, said Wagner, the state would issue a recreational warning cautioning people to stay away from the lake.
Wagner explained that blue-green algae is not actually a true algae but rather a photosynthetic bacteria. It can be dangerous because the toxins it produces can be harmful to humans and animals if ingested or absorbed into the skin. The toxins can also severely disrupt the ecological system of a body of water.
“We are not so concerned about (the toxins) in drinking water, because what utility companies already do to clean the water takes care of it,” said Wagner. “We are concerned about it (with recreation), because it can produce liver toxins and neurotoxins.”
She said that the two dogs that died earlier this summer in Salamonie Reservoir had liver damage as a result of ingesting the toxins.
Wagner’s department does sampling of public swimming areas in Indiana State Parks. She posts updates on the website, www.algae.in.gov. The site also lists precautions and explains more about blue-green algae. Although Wagner has not tested any lakes in Marshall County, she said the closest body of water she tested was Worster Lake at Potato Creek State Park.
“We have not found toxins in the lake — we found algae, but no toxins,” said Wagner.
After Wagner’s presentation, board members discussed possibly finding funding in order to continue testing Marshall County lakes on an annual basis.
The MCLWC meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the Marshall County Building.

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