The Kentucky Division of Water has officially removed the recreational public health advisory related to a harmful algal bloom in Briggs Lake in Logan County.
The division conducted ambient sampling in Briggs Lake on Sept. 22 and discovered colonies of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) across the entire lake, with the thickest part of the bloom on the northeast side of the lake. The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet issued an advisory Sept. 26.
In late October, the Division of Water said the harmful algal bloom had receded to a “small portion” of the lake. But the bloom persisted longer than expected, and the advisory wasn’t officially lifted until Friday.
These blooms tend to pop up abruptly during hot, dry conditions. In September, Kentuckians experienced near-record or record heat and drought across the state.
But it’s fairly rare for harmful algal blooms to survive during colder temperatures, according to Peter Goodman, director of the Division of Water.
“These are usually a warm-weather phenomenon, but not exclusively,” Goodman said. “You can have harmful algal blooms through the winter. They’re uncommon, but not unprecedented.
“Winter weather messes them up. They don’t like a lot of wind, or competing with other things.”
Harmful blooms of blue-green algae, which is the dominant source of phytoplankton in Kentucky waterways, occur when water is contaminated with an excess of nutrients from agricultural runoff, stormwater runoff, wastewater, fossil fuel use, fertilizers, detergents or pet waste. Harmful algal blooms produce toxins called microcystins, which pose significant health risks to people, pets and wildlife, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Division of Water said there are always risks associated with recreation in natural waters and that people should avoid contact with waters with visible algal blooms, as ingesting contaminated water may increase the risk of skin irritation and gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
– For more information, visit the cabinet’s page on harmful algal blooms. To report a suspected bloom, contact the Division of Water at 502-564-3410 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Individuals may also report blooms to the bloom Watch app.
– Follow reporter Caroline Eggers on Twitter @eggers dailynews or visit bgdaily news.com.