Algae at Buckeye Lake could threaten tourism

FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2014, file photo, the City of Toledo water intake crib is surrounded by algae in Lake Erie, about 2.5 miles off the shore of Curtice, Ohio. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, File)

BUCKEYE LAKE, Ohio (AP) — Those who depend on tourism at a central Ohio lake popular with boaters and fishermen are concerned about the higher levels of toxic blue-green algae this year.

Algae levels at Buckeye Lake east of Columbus were consistently higher this year than in any of the past three years, despite increased protection efforts.

Warning signs went up at the nearly 5-square-mile lake in June and have remained at some beaches since. Elevated levels of microcystin — a liver toxin created by algae — have some Buckeye Lake advocates worried about the future of tourism, a major part of the community’s economy, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

“You’ve got property values, the tourism, the fishermen,” said Merv Bartholow, the director of Buckeye Lake for Tomorrow, a nonprofit group that works on water quality at Buckeye Lake. “It’s an angler’s paradise out here, especially during certain seasons. Businesses depend on it.”

Toxic algae are common in most Ohio lakes, growing thick by feeding on phosphorus from manure, sewage and fertilizers that rain washes into waterways.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources manages Buckeye Lake, but the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency maintains the warning list.

As of Friday, the list had warnings for three beaches at Buckeye Lake, four at Grand Lake St. Marys and one at Maumee Bay State Park on Lake Erie.

Some worry that Buckeye Lake will become the next Grand Lake St. Marys, where tourism has been hurt by toxic-algae woes. The shallow lake in western Ohio has recorded some of the highest microcystin levels in the state.

Microcystin became so pervasive in Lake Erie this summer that it contaminated the city of Toledo’s drinking-water system, leaving 500,000 people without public drinking water for two days.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

 

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