A health advisory regarding bacteria levels at the flooded Perry Lake was lifted today, just in time for Labor Day weekend recreation.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued a health advisory Aug. 2, pointing out that floodwaters channeled into the lake had increased bacteria levels. KDHE discouraged swimming, water skiing and other water-contact recreation.
The department announced today that water samples collected at the lake Aug. 26 indicated generally acceptable bacteria levels and the water "no longer poses a human health risk."
Frank Funk, project manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Perry Lake, said today he was relieved to see conditions at the lake getting back to normal.
"It's got a clean bill of health now," he said.
The lake reached a record elevation of 920.92 feet above sea level during heavy July rains, and the corps began releasing water into the Delaware River July 24. The releases started at 5,000 cubic feet per second and increased to 10,000 cfs Aug. 9. Funk said the corps started cutting back last week, decreasing the amount released each day. Today, the corps was releasing only 500 cfs, the minimum rate of release for keeping the outflow equal to the inflow.
Funk said the lake level has dropped to 894 feet above sea level, just 2 1/2 feet higher than the conservation pool, and the corps plans to maintain the current level awhile.
"We're back where we want to be," he said.
Floodwaters killed the grass around the lake and damaged campsites, bathhouses and other facilities. Funk said rangers have focused cleanup efforts on Slough Creek Park in preparation for the holiday weekend, and will work on the lake's other parks later this year.
This weekend, Slough Creek Park will be totally available and parts of Longview Park will be available for recreational use. Rock Creek Park will be closed, and campsites are closed at Old Town Park. More than 350 campsites will be open at the lake, and all the boat ramps -- excluding those at Rock Creek -- are accessible.
"We'll find a place to put everybody who comes out," Funk said. "The weather looks about perfect for the weekend."
KDHE also lifted its health advisories for Milford and Tuttle Creek reservoirs, but encouraged visitors to the three lakes to keep an eye out for floating or partially submerged debris that may remain in the waters for several weeks.