Sept. 1, 2011
Public Health Warning remains in effect for the entire lake through the Labor Day Weekend but open to fishing; Cheney Reservoir off listings
TOPEKA — Samples collected by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) indicate that high toxin levels of algae bloom are still present throughout Milford Reservoir in Clay, Geary, and Dickinson counties. Based on samples tested at five different points around the lake, a Public Health Warning will remain in a effect through the Labor Day weekend.

However, testing has revealed that the algae cell counts and toxin levels have slightly lessened from last week’s alarming highs. After reviewing that data, lake management officials with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) have lifted the water use restriction and water access for boating and fishing.

Still, KDHE officials are advising lake visitors to exercise extreme caution when on or near the water. Visible surface scum on the water stained green or clumps of green floating foam on the water should be avoided. Although the lake is open to boating and fishing, swimming, water skiing, and personal watercraft riding are not. Anyone who goes to the lake and feels ill after water contact should notify their physician immediately.

“As we have seen this summer, the condition of Milford Lake has been severe,” explained Tom Langer, director for KDHE’s Bureau of Environmental Health. “Please understand that being allowed back on the water to boat or fish does not mean that the water is safe for body contact activities such as swimming, skiing, or wading. Activities that result in body contact after the water has been sprayed into the air, such as jet-skiing and wake-boarding, are very hazardous during an algae bloom because those water drops can be ingested and even inhaled. Protect your health and that of your family, friends, and pets.”

Warning signs remain posted at Milford Reservoir, and KDHE will resample the lake next week and continue to monitor the algae bloom.

In good news, testing at Cheney Reservoir, west of Wichita, found no signs of algae blooms, and the advisory there has been lifted. Cheney Reservoir will be open to all activities over Labor Day weekend. That said, if you see any green material floating in the water, you, and especially your pets, should avoid it.

KDWPT has advised the public that despite blue-green algae in Milford Reservoir and several smaller lakes that may limit water recreation, all state parks will be open Labor Day. Also, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy Kansas lakes and parks because all state fishing lakes and most city and county lakes are free of blue-green algae warnings or advisories.

KDHE will release the latest advisories and warnings for other Kansas waters in the afternoon of Sept. 1. These notices may be found on their website at www.kdheks.gov/news/index.html.