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Blue-Green Algae

Blue-Green Algae

Welcome

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), and the Board of Animal Health (BOAH) are working to provide information about blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, in our lakes.

Algae are commonly found in Indiana lakes and streams without concern, however the concentrated presence of blue-green algae can be linked to some adverse health effects. Factors promoting algal growth include sunlight, warm weather, low turbulence, and nutrient sources, such as phosphorus and nitrogen. Phosphorous is particularly important in fueling cyanobacteria growth. Often nutrient inputs come from nonpoint source pollution, but fortunately, there are many ways to reduce or stop nonpoint source pollution, many of which are simple things we can do right in our own backyards.

This website will be updated weekly during the sampling season to provide information about blue-green algae levels at the DNR lakes that IDEM samples. The IDEM video, Sampling Blue-green Algae, explains how IDEM staff samples the DNR swimming beaches.

You can also check the status of the DNR lakes that IDEM samples at the DNR website for the specific property. This update may also include results for other lakes sampled by other entities wishing to post on this site. You will find links to IDEM’s sampling results and laboratory tests as well as links to other websites such as the World Health Organization, the USGS Kansas Water Science Center, and assorted information available through other states.

DNR Lakes that IDEM Samples

  • Fort Harrison State Park Dog Park Lake
  • North Route:
    • Potato Creek State Park - Worster Lake
    • Mississinewa Lake - Miami State Recreation Area
    • Salamonie Lake - Lost Bridge West SRA
    • Sand Lake – Chain O’Lakes State Park
    • Lake James - Pokagon State Park
    • Lake James - Pokagon State Park Inn
    • Kunkel Lake - Ouabache State Park
  • South Route
    • Lake Monroe - Paynetown SRA
    • Lake Monroe - Fairfax SRA
    • Starve Hollow Lake - Starve Hollow SRA
    • Hardy Lake – Hardy Lake State Recreation Area
    • Cecil M. Harden Lake - Raccoon Lake SRA
    • Brookville Lake - Mounds SRA
    • Brookville Lake - Quakertown SRA
    • Whitewater Lake - Whitewater Memorial State Park

Indiana Reservoir and Lake Update

June 21, 2018

Sampling began this week for the 2018 recreation season to coincide with DNR’s opening of the swimming beaches on Memorial Day weekend. Results will be posted next week.

IDEM samples for blue-green algae and analyzes those samples for the type and quantity of blue-green algae present and for the following toxins which may be produced by certain types of blue-green algae: microcystin, cylindrospermopsin (only done if species that produce it are present), anatoxin-a, and saxitoxin. For protection of human health from exposure to the algae and any of the toxins, cyanobacteria will be compared to the World Health Organization (WHO), United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and Ohio Department of Health (ODH) guidelines. WHO guidelines recommend using an action level of 100,000 cells/ml of cyanobacteria to post recreational advisory signs. For cyanotoxin exposure for dogs, the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has developed action levels for microcystin, anatoxin-a and cylindrospermopsin. The Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division has set an action level for saxitoxin. A warning to dog owners using the Fort Harrison State Park Dog Park Lake will occur whenever any cyanotoxins are detected, and the lake will be closed to dogs if levels in the table below are met.

Exact cell counts and toxin levels can be found in the Test Results section of the web site. Swimming areas will stay on the High Cell Count Alert until the cell counts fall below 100,000.

Exposure Thresholds
Exposure Reference Values ug/l Microcystin Cylindrospermopsin Anatoxin- Saxitoxin
Human Recreation Advisory 0.4 8.0 80.0 0.8
Dog Recreation Prohibited 0.8 1.0 Any detection 0.02

IDEM Sampling Results - High Cell Count Recreation Advisory

  • Sand Lake - Chain O'Lakes SP
  • Whitewater Lake - Whitewater Memorial State Park
  • Cecil M. Harden Lake - Raccoon Lake SRA

IDEM Sampling Schedule

July 9-10, 2018

  • Lake Monroe - Paynetown SRA
  • Lake Monroe - Fairfax SRA
  • Starve Hollow Lake - Starve Hollow SRA
  • Hardy Lake – Hardy Lake State Recreation Area
  • Cecil M. Harden Lake - Raccoon Lake SRA
  • Brookville Lake - Mounds SRA
  • Brookville Lake - Quakertown SRA
  • Whitewater Lake - Whitewater Memorial State Park

July 2, 2018

  • None

June 25, 2018

  • Sand Lake – Chain O’Lakes SP
  • Whitewater Lake - Whitewater Memorial State Park
  • Cecil M. Harden Lake - Raccoon Lake SRA

June 18, 2018

  • Kunkel Lake – Ouabache SP
  • Lake James - Pokagon SP
  • Lake James - Pokagon SP Inn
  • Sand Lake - Chain O'Lakes SP
  • Salamonie Lake - Lost Bridge West SRA
  • Mississinewa Lake - Miami SRA
  • Worster Lake - Potato Creek SP

June 11, 2018

  • Lake Monroe - Paynetown SRA
  • Lake Monroe - Fairfax SRA
  • Starve Hollow Lake - Starve Hollow SRA
  • Hardy Lake – Hardy Lake State Recreation Area
  • Cecil M. Harden Lake - Raccoon Lake SRA
  • Brookville Lake - Mounds SRA
  • Brookville Lake - Quakertown SRA
  • Whitewater Lake - Whitewater Memorial State Park

June 4, 2018

  • North Route Resample - None – All cell counts under 100,000

May 29, 2018

  • South Route resample - None – All cell counts under 100,000

May 21, 2018

  • Kunkel Lake – Ouabache SP
  • Lake James - Pokagon SP
  • Lake James - Pokagon SP Inn
  • Sand Lake - Chain O'Lakes SP
  • Salamonie Lake - Lost Bridge West SRA
  • Mississinewa Lake - Miami SRA
  • Worster Lake - Potato Creek SP

May 14, 2018

  • Lake Monroe - Paynetown SRA
  • Lake Monroe - Fairfax SRA
  • Starve Hollow Lake - Starve Hollow SRA
  • Hardy Lake – Hardy Lake State Recreation Area
  • Cecil M. Harden Lake - Raccoon Lake SRA
  • Brookville Lake - Mounds SRA
  • Brookville Lake - Quakertown SRA
  • Whitewater Lake - Whitewater Memorial State Park

ISDH cautions Hoosiers of possible high levels of blue-green algae at many of Indiana's reservoirs and lakes. Swimmers and boaters should be careful in all recreational waters during this time of the year. Precautionary measures include avoiding contact with visible algae and swallowing water while swimming. Take a bath or shower with warm, soapy water after coming in contact with water in ponds and lakes, especially before preparing or consuming food. Pets and livestock should also not be allowed to swim in or drink untreated water from these sources. Exposure to blue-green algae during recreational activities such as swimming, wading, and water-skiing may lead to rashes, skin, eye irritation, and other uncomfortable effects such as nausea, stomach aches, and tingling in fingers and toes. If you should experience any symptoms after water recreational activities, please contact your doctor.

Livestock, pets and wild animals can be poisoned by the toxins produced by some algal blooms. Small animals can ingest a toxic dose quickly. Dogs are particularly susceptible to blue-green algae poisoning because the scum can attach to their coats and be swallowed during self-cleaning. Clinical signs of blue green algae poisoning in animals include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, weakness, seizures and sudden death, especially in livestock. If you see a blue-green algae bloom in the water or where you visit, do not allow pets or livestock swim in or drink from areas where blooms are seen. If pets swim in scummy water, rinse them off with soap and water immediately to remove the toxin. Do not let them lick the algae off their fur. Direct livestock to water sources away from algal infected waters. If your animal shows any of the clinical signs listed above, contact your veterinarian immediately.