GRDA confirms algae found in Grand Lake’s Ketchum Cove

VINITA, Okla. — The Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) is reporting the presence of a blue green algae (BGA) bloom in Ketchum Cove area of Grand Lake. Water testing recently performed by the GRDA’s Ecosystems and Watershed Management Department confirmed the bloom.

A BGA bloom could be seen extending from near the Hammerhead Marine boat ramp east towards Colony Cove, according to a release from GRDA. The agency advised the public to use extra precaution in this area of the lake because the situation can “change rapidly and the bloom can concentrate as it is pushed by the wind and waves.”

According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines, no primary bodily contact with the water when microcystin concentration produced by the BGA is greater than eight micrograms per liter (>8ug/l). The latest sampling shows the toxin levels in this area ranging from 7.1 to >50 ug/L depending on the location within the cove and density of the algae.

GRDA said BGA may resemble thick pea soup, green paint or bluish, brownish or reddish-green paint. When BGA washes up on shore, it can form a thick mat on the beach. BGA can quickly reproduce in bodies of water with adequate amounts of sunlight and nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen.

It’s recommended that individuals avoid swimming or participating in water activities in areas where the water is discolored or where you see foam, scum or mats of algae on the water.

“Although most algae blooms are not toxic, toxins can be produced in some algae blooms dominated by Blue Green Algae,” said GRDA Corporate Spokesperson Justin Alberty. “We have communicated these test results to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, and the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. Right now, we are closely monitoring the area and will provide regular updates as the situation progresses.”

At this time, no BGA has been confirmed in any other areas of Grand Lake.

“Grand is a large lake, with plenty of room for the public to come out and enjoy,” said Alberty. “We encourage everyone to play safe and please be aware of this current BGA presence.”

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, exposure to BGA can cause skin irritation, including rashes, hives or blisters. Inhalation of BGA can also trigger asthma-like conditions or allergic reactions. Ingestion of BGA water can cause stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea or vomiting. Due to their body size, young children are susceptible to the effects of BGA. It is also important to keep pets from drinking and swimming in water containing BGA water.

GRDA advised municipalities that draw water from this area should be taking the necessary steps to ensure the quality of their water utilizing their water treatment systems. They also advised lake residents who draw water from this area should avoid consumption of and contact with the water until further notice. Simply boiling water that may contain BGA doesn’t remove toxins from the water.

If you see a BGA bloom, ODEQ recommends that you avoid all contact with the water, keep your pets and livestock away from the water and immediately contact ODEQ at (800) 522 0206 or GRDA at (918) 256 0911.