Be careful if you’re on the Ohio.
What has been described upriver as blue-green streaks of harmful algae in the Ohio River is making its way to Owensboro.
On Friday, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet released a statement that the Kentucky Division of Water (KDOW) and the Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) are re-issuing a harmful algal bloom (HAB) recreational advisory for the Ohio River and tributaries, extending the advisory downstream from the West Virginia state line to the Cannelton Locks and Dam located at Cannelton, in Hancock County, Kentucky.
The report says that “water swallowed during recreational activities in this body of water may increase the risk of gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Skin, eye and throat irritation and/or breathing difficulties may also occur after contact.”
On Aug. 31, KDOW received a report of an algal bloom on the Ohio River near the West Virginia border. On Sept. 11, it had reached the Carrollton Pool by Cincinnati. On Sept. 17, KDOW staff observed blooms near Louisville at West Point. Yesterday the warning was extended to the Cannelton Pool in Hancock County.
Samples have been collected and are being analyzed to confirm the presence of microcystin toxins.
But don’t get too concerned; the report states that “this is a recreation advisory only. There have been no detected microcystin toxins reported in the finished, treated water from public water systems which draw from the river.” It goes on to say that “the drinking water plants which draw from the river are optimizing their treatment to address the bacteria in the raw water.”
The following guidelines are recommended to avoid exposure to harmful algal blooms:
- Individuals should avoid direct contact with affected water that has unusual color or where blue-green bacteria have been identified, including swimming, wading, paddling, diving and water skiing.
- People who are prone to respiratory allergies or asthma should avoid areas with HABs.
- Children may be particularly sensitive.
- If contact has been made with water containing blue-green algae, wash off with fresh water. In some cases, skin irritation will appear after prolonged exposure. If symptoms persist, consult your health care provider.
- If fishing in affected waters, fish fillets (not organs) may be consumed after the fillets have been rinsed in clean, non-lake water.
- Prevent pets and livestock from coming into contact with water where HAB is apparent.
Read the full report here.