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Saturday, June 26th, 2010

EPA: Algae toxins again in Grand Lake

State park staff erects new signs with 'stronger advisory'

By Betty Lawrence
GRAND LAKE - New signs went up around Grand Lake on Friday.
These tell people to avoid direct contact with the water.
"This is a stronger advisory," Grand Lake St. Marys State Parks Assistant Manager Brian Miller said late Friday as he prepared to change the signs. "It's still safe to boat and some of the jet skis are ok, but don't swim and water ski. Avoid direct contact with the water, not just the surface scum."
The new signs are a result of the latest EPA laboratory results, released Friday, which show two toxins are being produced by the new strain of blue-green algae blooming in the lake this summer.
Water samples were taken Wednesday from three public beaches at Villa Nova at St. Marys and from the state's boat ramps.
According to an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency press release received late Friday, the laboratory results showed the presence of a liver toxin (cylindrospermopsin) at the west beach of the state park and a nerve toxin (saxiotoxin) at levels just above detection limit in the same area. At the boat ramp, there was a low level of the liver toxin.
"Since there are no national standards or benchmarks for these toxins in water, state officials are advising the public to continue to avoid contact with the water," the release reads.
Planktothrix, a blue-green algae that was present in the lake last year, caused the state to issue its first water quality advisory just prior to the Memorial Day weekend. That advisory told people to minimize contact with the water and to not ingest it. It subsequently was lifted in April after toxin levels dropped.
This summer a different algae species bloomed - aphanizomenon gracile.
Water advisory signs were placed at the state beaches and boat ramps a week ago asking the public to avoid contact with the visible surface scum. Those signs were put in place while the EPA was awaiting lab results.
To view the most up to date algae toxin levels for Grand Lake, go online at www.epa.ohio.gov/pic/glsm_algae.aspx and then click on Grand Lake St. Marys Sampling Data.
For information on harmful algae blooms, go online to
www.epa.ohio.gov/dsw/HAB.aspx.
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