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December 28, 2011

Blue green algae levels drop at Waurika Lake

Water contact not prohibited but discouraged

DUNCAN — New blue green algae testing results have changed the status of Waurika Lake, which has remained under a warning advisory and water contact has been prohibited since mid-August.

Even as recent as early December, the status had not changed. But samples collected Dec. 13 returned a more favorable status. 

Lake Manager Louis Holstead said the status has been issued as a downgrade, and water contact is discouraged but not prohibited. Blue green algae levels are now below the warning level, yet caution is still recommended.

Both Chisholm Trail swim beach and Kiowa swim beach were affected by the blue green algae bloom, and were closed so people wouldn’t have contact with the water.

The bloom was a result of lack of rainfall, the drought and heat, combined with no movement in the lake because of the weather conditions.

The blue green algae blooms were discovered in August and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Tulsa district lakes handles the advisory statuses.

Holstead had said that fresh inflow or rain would have helped eliminate the bloom. He explained the sunlight encourages the toxins of the blue green algae.

“It has been downgraded to a lake advisory and contact with the water is discouraged, but not prohibited. All other rules still apply,” he said.

The blue green algae bloom was not unique to Waurika Lake, with many lakes throughout Oklahoma experiencing the same or similar conditions. Holstead had said in August that this was the first time for Waurika Lake to be issued the lake warning advisory.

Foam, scum or mats of algae on the water are indicators of the algae presence and the advisory states people should not drink untreated water from lakes with an advisory.

For information and continued updates, readers can visit directly the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Tulsa website. 

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Duncan Vice Mayor Mike Nelson talks during Wednesday's Duncan Rotary meeting.

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