GRDA Lifts Blue Green Algae Warning For Grand Lake

Wednesday, July 13th 2011, 2:22 pm
By: News On 6 & Lacie Lowry, News On 6

GRAND LAKE, Oklahoma -- Business owners and residents at Grand Lake have something to celebrate. The Grand River Dam Authority says it's safe to swim in the water again.

Tests show a decrease in toxins from the Blue Green Algae.  The GRDA doesn't know if it was the weather or just the life span of the algae, but they think its run its course.

7/1/2011 Related Story: GRDA: Algae Bloom Like This One Has Never Happened In Oklahoma

"Good news at last, that's exactly right. People can come jump in the water and use their boats," John Mullen, owner of Ugly Johns Thunder Bay Marina, said.

The swim ban lasted less than two weeks, but it nearly drowned businesses because it covered the biggest weekend of the year, July 4th.

"Oh it was slow, it hurt, it hurt us," Mullen said.

Profits were down as much as 75 percent at some places compared to last year.

"We'll be alright," Mullen said. "People just need to know I'm glad they finally came out, the media, came out with something good that it's gone, and it is."

The GRDA took new water samples earlier this week and found a dramatic drop in toxins from the algae blooms. Why the levels dropped is unclear.

"It's really hard to say, but perhaps this algae bloom is running it's course, at least in these areas of the lake that we found it earlier and they are just starting to die off," Justin Alberty, with the GRDA, said.

But, that explanation was good enough for the Indian Hills Resort in Bernice, where the GRDA's announcement couldn't come soon enough.

"I was thrilled, thrilled. We've been kinda lonesome around here," Barbara Jenkins said. "It's been hot and it's been quiet. A lot of conversations about 'how bad is algae and how bad isn't algae,' and things like that, but other than that, it's been quiet."

While the GRDA will continue to monitor the water, Grand Lake is already sending out invitations.

"Get on back here! We miss you!" Jenkins said.

Blue green algae are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams, usually in low numbers. Most blue green algae aren't toxic, but toxins harmful to humans and animals can be produced in some algae blooms.

The GRDA says to use common sense when you are swimming at Grand Lake. If you think you see algae or scum anywhere, just jump in somewhere else.

The GRDA says the following swimming precautions are also recommended by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality:

  • Hold nose or wear nose plugs when jumping into the water
  • Wash open skin cuts and scrapes with soap and clean 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 has floating debris, stagnant water, oil sheens or dead fish

GRDA Ecosystems Management Director Dr. Darrell Townsend said samples taken earlier this week indicate the algae is dying off. However, GRDA will continue its daily monitoring and sampling efforts, as long as conditions warrant.

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