New Law Helping Oklahoma Businesses Impacted By Blue-Green Algae Scare

Monday, July 16th 2012, 9:40 pm
By: Craig Day

After a disastrous season last year for businesses along Oklahoma's lakes, Blue-Green Algae hasn't gone away, but now more people understand what the risks are.

At Camp Tulakogee on Fort Gibson Lake, kids are having their usual fun, but a few water activities like canoeing and paddle boats are out.

It's a precaution to prevent potential exposure to Blue-Green Algae.

"Because we use a cove and not an open waterway, we take that extra seriously, and we don't want to have a problem with any of the kids, said Camp Tulakogee director, Don Burns.

No advisory is in effect now, but Burns said he is being extra cautious.

"It's not the whole lake, at all, it's just a matter of being cautious and wise in choosing where you should recreate on the water, Burns said.

A year ago, many stayed away from state lakes because of Blue-Green Algae concerns.

And the misconception that it posed more of a threat than it really did.

"They thought that because one area may have had the blue green algae spotted that the whole lake was unsafe, and that's not true," said Ann Davis, owner of Paradise Cove Marina.

Davis said this year, more people are getting more accurate information.

"It's not complete panic. They're keeping their boat rental reservations, and their fishing reservations and their hotel reservations," Davis said. "Last year, we canceled out everything. We had a complete disastrous summer as far as revenue."

In response to what some call a Blue-Green Algae overreaction last year, the state legislature passed a measure designed to better inform people about Blue-Green Algae, while trying to protect lake economies.

The law requires more frequent testing, and created a web site that shows exactly where advisories are issued.

"The education on has been phenomenal for marina owners and area lakes," Davis said.

With more information, Davis said this year is much better, as more people realize Oklahoma lakes are open and ready for a summer of fun instead of fear.

To report Blue Green Algae, you can contact the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality at 1-800-522-0206.