Processing Magazine

Toxic algae levels continue to rise in Kentucky lakes

November 12, 2013

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The concentration of toxic algae in some of Kentucky's lakes has increased dramatically, with levels standing 10 times higher than those that led to a public warning from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers earlier this year.

Five of the most popular Kentucky lakes that attract millions of tourists every year have been so badly affected by the growth of the toxic microorganisms that swimmers have been falling sick over the past few months. Experts explain that as the winter season approaches, algae are likely to fall into what is referred to as "resting stage" but predictions are for levels to remain elevated after the end of the cold season.

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Kentucky officials confirmed last week that a number of other lakes in the state were also being tested to check their algae bloom concentration but they declined to reveal the results, calling them preliminary. However, Stephen Carpenter, a zoology professor and director of the Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, told the Courier-Journal that it was likely that other lakes were also affected.

Harmful blooms of the algae, cyanobacteria, are dangerous to waterways as they produce toxins that can harm animals living in the water or people who come in contact with contaminated water. In late 2012 Taylorsville Lake was the first water body in Kentucky that tested positive for cyanobacteria, followed by four others in 2013.