Friday, May 20th, 2022

State issues no-contact advisory for Grand Lake

Algal toxins above safety threshold

By William Kincaid
The public has been advised to avoid all contact with water at the four public beaches on Grand Lake after tests detected unsafe algal toxins, according to notices released by the Ohio Department of Health.
Recreational Public Health Advisories due to algal bloom/toxin were issued by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on Thursday afternoon for the main west, main east, state park campground and Windy Point beaches.
The advisories are triggered when cyanotixins - in these cases, microcystin - are equal to or exceed a recreational threshold, according to the Ohio Department of Health website. Microcystin is a toxin produced by cyanobacteria, more commonly called blue-green algae, that can sicken people and animals.
"The sign advises that unsafe levels of algal toxins have been found, to avoid all contact with the water, and that swimming and wading are not recommended," the sign reads. "Pets should also be kept away from the water."
"The signs will go up today and will remain until microcystin levels drop below recreational thresholds for two consecutive sample results, taken at least one week apart, said Dave Faler, Grand Lake St. Marys State Park manager.
The recreational advisory threshold for microcystin is 8 parts per billion. The levels reported at beaches on Thursday were 21.9 ppb at Windy Point, 16.1 ppb at main west, 22.7 ppb at main east and 17.6 ppb at the state park campground, according to ODH's Ohio's Beach Water Quality & Advisories website.
Faler said he collected the water samples from the four beaches on Sunday and the test results were known on Thursday.
Lake water samples are tested at a lab at the Celina water treatment plant, he said.
"We do testing before we open them (beaches) for Memorial Day," Faler said.
Phosphorus-fed toxic blue-green algal blooms have resulted in state-issued water advisories on the 13,500-acre recreational lake every year since 2009.
The local watershed is the only in the state designated as distressed due to unsafe algal toxin levels, a designation the watershed received in January 2011 after animals and humans were sickened by the toxins in 2010.
Elevated microcystin algal toxins can cause skin rashes, respiratory and gastrointestinal distress and harm the liver, Ohio EPA officials have said.
"We had some issued last year but for the majority of the time there was none issued," Faler said about 2021.
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