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Addressing Concerns About Blue-Green Algae

June 11, 2012: Indiana Reservoir and Lake Update June 11, 2012: Indiana Reservoir and Lake Update

IDEM will begin sampling the listed swimming areas beginning on June 18th, 2012.

The Indiana State Department of Health cautions Hoosiers of possible high levels of blue-green algae, also known as Cyanobacteria, at many of Indiana's reservoirs and lakes. Swimmers and boaters should be careful in all recreational waters during this time of the year. Precautionary measures include avoiding contact with visible algae and swallowing water while swimming. Take a bath or shower with warm, soapy water after coming in contact with untreated water in ponds and lakes, especially before preparing or consuming food. Pets and livestock should also not be allowed to swim in or drink untreated water from these sources. Exposure to a blue-green algae during recreational activities such as swimming, wading, and water-skiing may lead to rashes, skin, eye irritation, and other uncomfortable effects such as nausea, stomach aches, and tingling in fingers and toes. If you should experience any symptoms after water recreational activities, please contact your doctor.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) began cyanobacteria sampling the week of June 20th. The designated swimming beaches at the following DNR and U.S. Forest Service managed areas will be sampled monthly, unless cell counts exceed 100,000 cells per milliliter (cells/ml), at which point the swimming beaches in exceedance will be resampled on a biweekly basis until the counts fall below 100,000 cells/ml:

  • Chain O’Lakes State Park
  • Fairfax State Recreation Area on Monroe Lake
  • Hardin Ridge U.S. Forest Service Recreation Area on Monroe Lake
  • Hardy Lake State Recreation Area
  • Lost Bridge West State Recreation Area on Salamonie Lake
  • Miami State Recreation Area on Mississinewa Lake
  • Mounds State Recreation Area on Brookville Lake
  • Paynetown State Recreation Area on Monroe Lake
  • Pokagon State Park
  • Potato Creek State Park
  • Quakertown State Recreation Area on Brookville Lake
  • Raccoon State Recreation Area on Cecil M. Hardin Lake (Raccoon Lake)
  • Whitewater Memorial State Park

For protection of human health from cyanobacteria, the World Health Organization uses a guideline level of greater than 100,000 cells/ml and microcystin toxin levels of 20 parts per billion (ppb) for a high risk health alert in recreational waters. In Indiana, IDEM uses 6 ppb of microcystin toxin as a warning level. Additionally, IDEM will be analyzing samples for the cylindrospermopsin toxin, and using 5 ppb as a warning level. Exact cell counts and toxin levels can be found in the Test Results section of the web site. For more information on Blue-Green algae, please contact the Indiana Blue-Green Algae Information Line at (877) 650-0033 (Toll Free) or (317) 233-7181.

Indiana Clean Lakes Program

Each summer, the Indiana Clean Lakes Program (CLP) staff at Indiana University’s School for Public and Environmental Affairs (IU SPEA) conducts comprehensive assessments of between 70 and 80 randomly selected Indiana lakes. These lakes are sampled once during the summer season. Beginning in 2010, targeted cyanobacteria testing was added to the CLP protocol. Upon return to the SPEA laboratory, cyanobacteria are identified and counted, and the samples analyzed for the microcystin toxin. This project is designed to help determine the environmental variables (water temperature, nutrient concentration, plankton density, chlorophyll concentration, etc.) associated with high microcystin toxin concentrations. The development of relationships between environmental variables and microcystin toxin levels will be critical for effective lake management and minimization of human health risks associated with the toxin.

The results of the CLP sampling can be found in the Test Results section. For more information about the CLP, please contact Melissa Clark (

Kosciusko County Lake Sampling Result

Grace College samples 44 lakes in Kosciusko County monthly. These samples are analyzed by CEES for the microcystin toxin and some lakes for cyanobacteria cell counts. Because of the large number of lakes, lakes will only be listed if toxin levels in samples are greater than 6ppb or cyanobacteria cell counts exceed 100,000 cells/ml. For a complete listing of lakes, please see Test Results. For more information about the Kosciusko County lakes, please contact Bruce Hammer, Environmental Scientist with the Kosciusko County Health Department at (574) 372-2349.