FAYETTEVILLE -- Algae level at Lake Fayetteville is again safe, according to researchers who have been testing samples.
City officials were notified June 7 test results from the lake showed 15 micrograms per liter of microcystin. On Friday, Brian Haggard, director of the Arkansas Water Resources Center of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, told city officials the levels were below the threshold for public notification.
To read the notification on Lake Fayetteville’s microcystin levels, go to bit.ly/lakefaylevels.
"Microcystin concentrations were less than 3 micrograms per liter in the samples collected, averaging 1.2 micrograms per liter," he said.
The state Health Department requires public notification if levels reach 10 micrograms per liter of microcystin.
Microcycstin is an algae toxin released during decay of some algae types when present in a large group, called a bloom, according to the city. There were no visible blooms at the lake, which typically look like a green cloud in the water.
Inhalation or ingestion can cause nausea, vomiting, rash, irritated eyes, seizures or breathing problems in people and pets, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Swimming isn't allowed at the lake, regardless of algae level.
The notification of high levels was the second in the past month. The city issued a news release May 17 saying the microcystin level went to 11, and it put out another notification June 3 when recorded levels went below the 10 micrograms per liter threshold.
Mark Rogers, water and sewer operations manager for the city, said officials aren't sure what caused the algae toxin levels to rise. A class had been working on a research project for the Arkansas Water Resources Center when the levels were discovered. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has certified the Resource Center for analyses of water samples throughout the state.
The city's other two major public bodies of water, Lake Wilson and Lake Sequoyah, also prohibit swimming.
"Don't drown. Don't swim in the lake," Ted Jack, Park Planning superintendent, said. "Those are our rules."
If levels were to hit 20 micrograms per liter, the city would have to close the lake, Rogers said.
"It's probably just people having their yards treated by these commercial companies," he said. "We've had so much rain that there's a lot of runoff. So it's affecting the lake quality."
There are two creeks, Hilton and Clear, that flow into the lake, and researchers are being asked to identify which leg the contaminants are coming from, Rogers said.
The harmful algae levels were discovered by virtue of the university research team being there.
"We do not have a program right now to do those tests," Rogers said. "That may be something we need to consider."
Activity at the lake has continued despite the warnings. The Rowing Club of Northwest Arkansas held classes, notifying participants of the levels and advising them to wash up after contact with the water, said Meredith Hendricks, club member.
"We're keeping ourselves informed so we can implement safe practices with our membership," she said.
NW News on 06/15/2019
Print Headline: Lake algae back to safe level, researchers say