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Archive for Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lawrence chips in $20,000 for study of blue-green algae

November 22, 2011

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The emergence last summer of blue-green algae in the Kansas River still has Lawrence raising a few red flags about the effect the toxin has on the city’s drinking-water supply.

City officials now are hoping that a special study by the U.S. Geological Survey will shed light on the severity of last summer’s algae outbreak and give water plan operators a better idea of what to expect in the future.

“I don’t think anyone expects this to be a one-time occurrence,” said Mike Lawless, an assistant director of the city’s Utilities Department. “I think there will be some long-term issues that we’re going to have to look at as a result of this.”

City commissioners at their meeting Tuesday agreed to pay nearly $20,000 for the city’s share of a $136,000 study of the Kaw River algae outbreak that began last August when water from Milford Lake was released. Also sharing in the cost will be the city of Topeka, Johnson County-based WaterOne, the Kansas Water Office, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and the USGS.

The USGS took samples of the Kansas River during the outbreak and now will provide an analysis of what led to the outbreak and what effect it had on the river and one water system that rely on the river for public drinking water.

Lawrence City Hall officials briefly shut down the Kaw River Water Treatment Plant during the algae event while it tested to ensure that none of the blue-green algae was showing up in the treated drinking water. The tests ultimately did not detect any blue-green algae in the treated water.

But the city wants to learn more about how much blue-green algae was in the untreated water that the plant was taking from the Kaw. The issue of blue-green algae has not been extensively studied by the water treatment industry. The Environmental Protection Agency does not have any standards related to blue-green algae in public water supplies. But health officials agree that too much exposure to blue-green algae toxins can cause health problems in humans and especially pets.

“I expect this study probably will lead us to do other studies down the line,” Lawless said.

The USGS likely will finalize its report by April, Lawless said.

Comments

madcow 3 years, 1 month ago

This caused both of my cats to become sick, stop eating, and vomit 6-9 times a day. Followed by 3 trips to the vet and overnight stays. The vet bill alone was over $1100, plus time missed from work.

So why was this water released from Milford Lake?

mitzie 3 years, 1 month ago

this is relly the first ive heard about this but i have been having to give my cats bottled water. i thought it was the change in water from where we used to live in north east mo. to lawrence water, i know going from well water to ground water can be a problem at firs but this contunied. then a few weeks ago i had to use tap water for them both of them started throwing up and one of our babys died, so if this is still hurting them whats it doing to us. so if anyone can please let me know where to go to find more information on this please help, thanks. mitzie

Mark Jakubauskas 3 years, 1 month ago

Some of the toxins released by blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) are more deadly than strychnine (rat poison), sarin (nerve gas), or ricin. They include neurotoxins (attack the nervous system), hepatotoxins (liver), and dermatoxins (skin).

Rae Hudspeth 3 years, 1 month ago

For those of you with pets, I was told fourteen years ago when I moved here, by the vet in Eudora, to give my animals only filtered water due to the high rate of bladder and kidney cancers he saw in pets from Lawrence.

Are our pets now "canaries in the coal mines"? I had bladder illnesses in my indoor/outdoor cat last year same time, as this year two months ago. Coincidence?

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