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GRDA removes “no bodily contact” warning for Grand Lake

Reported July 13, 2011 at 3:05 PM CST

News release issued by Grand River Dam Authority:

Chandler – The latest Grand Lake water samples — showing a significant decrease in blue green algae (BGA) toxicity — have prompted the Grand River Dam Authority to remove its “no bodily contact” warning for Grand Lake waters. Rather, the public is now simply encouraged to use caution in the water and avoid body contact with areas of visible BGA accumulations and “scum.” Meanwhile, GRDA continues to encourage the public to enjoy all activities in the Grand Lake area.

GRDA made the decision to remove the warning following an update from GRDA staff at the July 13 board meeting in Chandler.

 ”Conditions have improved significantly and at this point, we are no longer discouraging body contact with the waters,” said GRDA Ecosystems Management Director Dr. Darrell Townsend. “Rather, we are simply urging the public to use common sense, remain vigilant and avoid those areas where BGA scums appear to be present.”

The following swimming precautions are also recommended by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ):

§           Hold nose or wear nose plugs when jumping into the water
§           Wash open skin cuts and scrapes with clean soap and water immediately after swimming
§           Avoid swallowing water when swimming
§           Wear ear plugs to prevent ear infections
§           Wear swim goggles or masks to prevent eye infections
§           Avoid swimming near storm drains (pipes that drain polluted water from streets)
§           Take children to the restroom frequently/Use swim diapers on infants
§           Stay away from any area that that has floating debris, stagnant water, oil sheens or dead fish

In his report to the board on July 13, Townsend said samples taken earlier this week showed the decrease, which may indicate the algae is dying off. However, he said, GRDA will continue its daily monitoring and sampling efforts, as long as conditions warrant. If conditions do change, GRDA will notify the public.

 

For more information on BGA, visit grda.com or deq.state.ok.us.

Reported July 7, 2011 at 5:10 PM CST

News release issued by Grand River Dam Authority:

Langley — The Grand River Dam Authority is reporting that the most recent results from water sample testing in Grand Lake has shown a significant decrease in levels of blue green algae (BGA) toxins.

Those results are from water samples gathered in both the Duck Creek and Horse Creek areas of Grand Lake. According to the GRDA Ecosystems Management Department, that demonstrates a real improvement in the BGA outbreak, however the BGA scums (visible accumulations) found throughout areas around the lake continue to be prevalent and toxic, and need to be avoided.

While the public is still very much encouraged to enjoy activities in the Grand Lake area, GRDA continues to warn against recreational activities that involve bodily contact with Grand Lake waters. Also, be very cautious when using fish cleaning stations and watering lawns with lake water.

Test results can differ from day to day, and avoidance of bodily contact with Grand Lake waters is still in the public’s best interest.

GRDA will continue with its daily monitoring and sampling efforts indefinitely, as long as conditions warrant.

More information on BGA is available by following the links on grda.com, Facebook and Twitter. GRDA will also update these sites with the latest information when available.

Reported July 6, 2011 at 5:45 PM CST:  Authorities say blue green algae remains widespread at Oklahoma’s Grand Lake.  Businesses are complaining about losing tourism dollars, but lake officials say the hot weather may be the perfect time for going to the lake and it is also the perfect time for this algae to grow.

Some lake goers are hesitant while others don’t mind.

“When someone tells me not to do something, I’m not going to do it,” says Grove resident Scott Marino.

“Come out, here have some fun, go swimming – the algae does not bother me at all,” says Carol Jones.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality the toxins from the algae might cause a variety of reactions including respiratory problems, and skin irritations.

“Blue green algae has the potential to be anywhere in the water right now, and just because you see a bloom there today doesn’t mean it will be there tomorrow,” says Justin Alberty, Communications Director for the Grand River Dam Authority.  “In an area that we test tomorrow that may not show any sign of a bloom today, could still have these toxins in it.”

The main areas affected so far by the algae:

  • Bernice State Park
  • Duck Creek
  • Horse Creek
  • Ketchum Cove
  • Party Cove

Officials say all of those areas enter into the main channel so they could travel to other parts of the lake.

Most algae is green and moss like, BGA has a blue and green tint and blankets the water.

“Unfortunately, it’s been kind of a moving target for us that’s why we keep doing samples on a daily basis and keep working with all these other agencies because the potential it has to be so widespread, that’s why we felt it was necessary to issue the warning that we did,” says Alberty.

ODEQ officials say adults are not often affected by blue-green algae since they are less likely to be exposed.  But they say consumption or inhalation can be unsafe for anyone.

For more information on blue green algae visit the GRDA website.

Reported July 1, 2011 at 2:20 PM CST:  OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Gov. Mary Fallin wants Oklahomans planning on going to Grand Lake over the Independence Day holiday weekend to not cancel their plans.

Fallin is encouraging tourism around the lake after the Grand River Dam Authority said Friday it’s discouraging swimming in Grand Lake because of the presence of blue-green algae, which can produce toxins harmful to humans and animals.

Fallin tells The Associated Press her family planned a trip to Grand Lake for this weekend and is still going. She says there’s a lot to do around Grand Lake even if the water is off-limits.

She says there are public pools and golf courses, fireworks shows, an air show, free concerts and numerous tourist attractions in the area. She says she’s concerned about the economic impact of the water issue.

# # #

Posted July 1, 2011 at 1:21 PM CST

News release issued by Grand River Dam Authority

Langley – Ahead of an emergency meeting of the Grand River Dam Authority Board of Directors on Friday afternoon to discuss the issue of Blue Green Algae (BGA) in Grand Lake, the GRDA is advising the public to stay out of Grand Lake waters.

“We strongly discourage any body contact with the water at this point,” said GRDA Corporate Communications Director Justin Alberty. “That means no swimming or any other activities that would bring you into contact with lake water.”

The reason behind this advisory is due to the rapidly changing conditions of the BGA levels and areas in the lake, added Alberty. Earlier in the week, BGA was confirmed in several locations of Grand Lake. After further monitoring, it appears there is the potential for the algae to be in all the major coves and areas of the main lake.

“Test results from late yesterday (Thursday) afternoon showed BGA toxicity at higher levels than before, and this is a situation that continues to develop rapidly. We strongly discourage anyone from getting into the lake at this point.”

BGA are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams, usually in low numbers. However, the algae can become abundant in shallow, warm water that receives heavy sunlight. While most BGA are not toxic, toxins can be produced in some algae blooms. That is what has occurred on Grand Lake and continues to develop.

“Both the GRDA Ecosystems Department and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality have monitored this issue for several days, and its safe to say that it has rapidly progressed, even in the last 24 hours,” said Alberty.

The GRDA Board of Directors will be briefed on the lake conditions during the special meeting, at 1:30 PM Friday afternoon, in Tulsa. At that time, it will discuss the other alternatives for dealing with the Grand Lake BGA issue.

For more information on BGA, visit GRDA.com or www.deq.state.ok.us.


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