Repeat Algae Warnings Frustrating For Lake Rangers, Visitors

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

Digging Deeper

Blue-green algae exists in all surface water and only becomes a problem when it reproduces too quickly. 

To avoid becoming sick from it: 
  • Heed all warning and closure signs
  • Do not swim or wade if you can see algae in the water
  • Do not drink lake water
  • Shower after swimming


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Saturday, July 21, 2012

It's July. It's Kansas. It's hot. It's the perfect combination for hitting the lake.

However, hot, dry weather is helping contribute to toxic blue-green algae in some Kansas lakes and that is keeping several lake visitors away.

Marion Reservoir, between Hillsboro and Marion, has been dealing with repeat algae advisories and warnings. The warnings have caused a decrease in activity at the central Kansas lake, regular visitors say.

"The night before they tell you it's open. You get up here the next day and it's closed down because it just bloomed up out of nowhere," said Andale resident Josh Buckner. "It's very frustrating."

Park rangers at Marion Reservoir say they share in Buckner's frustration.

If a sample from one part of the lake tests above the allowable threshold for blue-green algae, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has to issue an advisory or a warning for the entire lake.

"(It's) very frustrating when you drive an hour to come up here and have a good time and then it's closed down or beaches are shut down," Buckner said. "It's definitely a tough time."

It's a Saturday in July, with temperatures approaching 105 degrees: perfect lake weather. However, due at least in part to repeat advisories and warnings, Marion Reservoir is pretty empty.

"There's maybe about five boats left out there," said Joy Buckner. "When we showed up today there were maybe a dozen. Typically, there's way more than that."

The Buckner family -- Josh, Joy and their seven children -- has been going to Marion Reservoir regularly for about 10 years. They have noticed a decline in visitors this season.

"Campsites are usually tough to get into," Joy said. "You have to reserve them ahead of time, but, as you can see, there's no tents around here at all."

The Buckners do their best not to let the algae blooms ruin their plans. When they head to the lake while it is under and advisory or a warning, they take extra precautions.

"What we do is we go home, we get out of our clothes, wash our bathing suits and take a shower right away," Joy said.

That does not mean disappointment is avoidable.

"You gas up the jet skis to have a good weekend and then you end up inside in a pool place," Josh said. "Not what you were looking forward to."

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