UPDATED: Algae warning issued for Lake Fayetteville

File photo

UPDATE 6/3/19: New samples show that microcystin levels are now well below the advisory level, and lake visitors no longer need to take extra precautions when near the water.

It’s possible that harmful algae could be present in Lake Fayetteville.

City officials this month issued a warning to residents to take safety measures when visiting the lake.

A first-year engineering honors team from the University of Arkansas has been monitoring algae at the lake, and in early May, several water samples were taken and sent for testing. Results from one sample showed higher levels of microcystin, which is an algae toxin released during the decay of some algae types in an algae bloom.

Officials said the spring’s heavy and frequent rain storms combined with lake’s nutrient levels and recent warm temperatures have encouraged rapid growth of algae, which created the bloom.

Measurements over 10 micrograms per liter of microcystin require notification to the public and other organizations. The team found 11 micrograms per liter in one sample.

New samples have been taken and researchers are awaiting the lab results. Officials said a new notification will be issued when microcystin levels have diminished.

Visitors to Lake Fayetteville are advised to avoid areas of algae accumulation, and to use caution when contacting lake water. If contact is made with the water, it’s advised to wash with clean, treated water afterwards. Pet owners should not let pets eat dried algae or enter the lake water since they tend to drink it. Any fish caught from the lake should be cleaned well and have their guts disposed of properly.

From a news release:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says there are relatively few documented cases of severe human health effects. If inhalation or ingestion occurs by a human or pet – watch for symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, rash, irritated eyes, seizures, breathing problems, or other unexplained illness and contact a doctor or veterinarian.

City officials said residents and businesses should be aware of materials such as fertilizers, petroleum products, and detergents that can be washed into natural waterways and infrastructure during rainfall.