With air temperatures changing and the fall season upon us, many people are still enjoying all that Beaver Lake in Rogers has to offer. Some visitors have noticed algal blooms floating on the surface of various areas of Beaver Lake.
The algal blooms do not encompass all of Beaver Lake; rather it appears in small pockets and random locations. The blooms have occurred on Beaver Lake for many years as the seasons transition from summer to fall. Samples from this recent algal bloom have been analyzed and identified as a type of Blue Green Algae called "Oscillatoria limosa."
The algal bloom is naturally short lived and is dissipated by wind, dilution, and changes in water/air temperature. Eventual death of the algae filaments will occur.
Although no known major health risks are associated with this type of algae, skin rashes may result from direct contact. Authorities recommend individuals avoid swimming or other water related recreational activities where the water is discolored or where foam, scum, or mats of algae are observed on the water.
Pet owners should exercise caution with regard to pets drinking or swimming in these waters if algae is present.
The Corps of Engineers, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, Benton County Health Department and the Beaver Water Supply District will continue to monitor and coordinate any incidents of BGA.
BGA, also known as cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms that live in water. The algae are usually too small to be seen, but can sometimes form a visible algal bloom which is a rapid increase or accumulation of algae in an aquatic system. BGA blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients.
Blooms usually occur in late summer or early fall. BGA can be found in any body of water, such as lakes, ponds, creeks, oceans, or stagnant waters. BGA looks like foam, scum, or mats on a water surface. The blooms can be blue, bright green, brown, or even red in color. Some blooms may not affect the appearance of the water. As algae in the bloom die, however, the water may have an unpleasant odor.
Original story (October 1):
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is investigating high concentrations of algae on Beaver Lake.
People living on the lake in Rogers called the Corps with concerns after noticing a scum forming on the top of the water near the shoreline, and samples were then collected for testing.
"It was intermittent," says Sean Harper, the Corps' Operations Manager for Beaver Lake. "There were places where there was quite a bit of it in a cove... and in some other coves there wouldn't be any at all."
The Beaver Water District identified the substance as a form of blue green algae, and determined there were no toxins present in the substance.
Bob Morgan, the district's Manager of Environmental Quality says the water at the tap is still safe to drink.
"It's a taste and odor causing algae which if you're getting this taste in the water this time of year, that's what it is," he says. "It is perfectly safe. Once it goes through our treatment we are able to remove the algae from the water."
Morgan says the blooms depend on variety of conditions, including water temperature, so the algae can be visible one day, and gone the next.
"Either the wind has changed direction and broken it up and blown it out into open water, or the blue greens in particular can float up and down to find the right oxygen levels and nutrient levels, so they may be diving at that particular point in time and disappearing," he says. "It's not a very frequent event here on Beaver. I think we've had conditions this year with the low water and lots of sunshine, lots of heat, that have been really productive for algae."
Although it's okay to pull from the tap, Harper says you need to keep pets from drinking directly from contaminated areas, and you probably shouldn't take a dip in the middle of an algae mat.
"There is a risk of maybe a skin irritation if you are in a concentration of it," he says.
Harper says the algae should clear up in the coming weeks.
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