The Richmond Register

October 31, 2013

Harmful algae expected to dissipate in colder temperatures

State division of water searching for source of growth

By Seth Littrell
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — While there are still harmful algal blooms growing in Lake Reba, the number of cyanobacteria can be expected to diminish if the winter is cold enough, according to the Kentucky Division of Water.

DoW Public Information Officer Allison Fleck said cool temperatures typically cause HABs to dissipate, thinning out the amount of algae floating on the surface of the water.

Fleck said there has been no significant change in the levels of algae in the lake since the HABs were first discovered two weeks ago. She said in other cases the DoW is studying, the blooms have been fed by fertilizers used on the ground in the area, which find a way to flow into the lake. The best way to stop the HABs from growing is to find the source of their growth and control it.

“The long-term solution is better agricultural practices,” Fleck said.

The existing algae in the lake isn’t dangerous enough to close the park, but there are awareness concerns the DoW has for some visitors, Fleck said. The first is that fish in the lake are likely to come into contact with the harmful bacteria, and people who fish there are encouraged to carefully clean and rinse whatever they catch. The second concern is for pets, specifically dogs, which may jump or swim in the water.

“While dogs may not directly ingest the algae, they are likely to get a coating of it on their fur that they will lick off later, and they ingest it that way,” Fleck said.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, the toxins in HABs are among the deadliest in the world and can cause neurological damage as well as liver or kidney toxicity.

HAB treatment takes time, and the water can’t be cleaned by putting something in the lake, Fleck said.

According to the CDC, cyanobacteria are photosynthetic and can live in terrestrial, fresh, brackish or marine waters. While they are usually too small to be seen, they can can form visible colonies that look like slicks of bright green, brown or red paint floating on the water’s surface, when other forms of algae grow exuberantly.
Harmful algal blooms occur when the amount of cyanobacteria in a water source is large enough to threaten people, animals or the environment. HABs can block sunlight and use up oxygen, killing other plants and animals in the water.

Fleck said the DoW is putting together a list of frequently asked questions, which will be available on the division’s website,, for anyone wanting additional information.

Seth Littrell can be reached at or 624-6623.