Blue Green Algae In Missouri

Introduction

In late June 2011 the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) issued a press release warning of the dangers of exposure to blue-green algae and strongly discouraging people from swimming in Oklahoma's Grand Lake of the Cherokees. This warning fell short of being an official lake closure and came just before the busy and economically important 4th of July weekend. Some felt the GRDA was overreacting and that the economy of the lake region would be devastated, but the decision was justified when Oklahoma senator James Inhofe became, in his words, "deathly sick" after swimming in the lake.

The hot, dry weather of 2012 has been blamed for similar toxic algae events across the nation. Kansas has been hit particularly hard. As of this writing six Kansas lakes have posted warnings saying that they are closed for direct water contact and another six have posted advisories discouraging direct contact with the water because of blue-green algae. Closer to home, the threat of blue-green algae recently caused the city of Nevada, Missouri to issue an advisory urging individuals and their pets to avoid contact with the water at Radio Springs Lake.

These pages have been developed to help Missourians understand the role blue-green algae play in the environment and the potential dangers associated with blue-green algae blooms.

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USGS photo of blue-green algae bloom Blue-green algae bloom in Binder Lake, Iowa Microcystis bloom Swim beach at Mozingo Lake, Missouri Blue-green algae bloom (red in color - Plantothrix rubescens), Western Missouri A blue-green bloom near University of Missouri in Columbia Stromatolites: Fossilized blue-green algae mats (photo: Michael C. Rygel via Wikimedia Commons) Plantothrix rubescens, a red blue-green algae, blooming through ice on a Missouri lake