LAKE JAMES — Low levels of potentially toxic blue-green algae have turned up in testing at the beach in front of Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park in the first basin of Lake James.
Testing hasn’t revealed any other levels of the algae on the only other beach tested in Steuben County by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, which is the main beach at Pokagon in the third basin of Lake James.
These are the only two places tested regularly in Steuben County.
“Algae are commonly found in Indiana lakes and streams without concern, however the concentrated presence of blue-green algae can be linked to some adverse health effects,” said information from IDEM.
There haven’t been any dangerous outbreaks yet in Indiana but blue-green algae is once again in the spotlight after a couple dogs died after swimming and possibly ingesting water with the algae at a lake in North Carolina recently.
At Pokagon, information is posted to inform the public about the potential hazards from blue-green algae, said Tara Wolf, spokeswoman with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
She said in an email that DNR properties are alerting guests “of alert levels (low risk, advisory, caution, closed) on signage at our beaches, on our property advisory page on the web, and on state park and property Facebook pages as we receive test results.”
Being low risk, the Indiana State Department of Health’s website said, people should not drink the water and should shower after swimming.
The same rating is in place at Sand Lake in Chain O’Lakes State Park, Albion.
At Kunkel Lake in Ouabache State Park in Wells County, the algae is at the advisory level — with caution and beach closed being the next highest of four. That means swimming and boating are permitted but people should avoid contact with algae. People shouldn’t drink the water and should shower after swimming. Pets should be kept out of the water.
The other lakes that were at the advisory level in Indiana were:
• Brookville Lake — Quakertown State Recreational Area
• Brookville Lake — Mounds State Recreational Area
• Cecil M. Harden Lake — Raccoon Lake State Recreational Area
• Hardy Lake — Hardy Lake State Recreational Area
• Monroe Lake — Fairfax State Recreational Area
• Monroe Lake — Paynetown State Recreational Area
• Whitewater Lake — Whitewater Memorial State Park
• Worster Lake — Potato Creek State Park
None of Indiana’s beaches are at the caution or beach closed levels.
About 15-20 years ago a harmful bloom sprouted at Ball Lake in Steuben County.
Algae are commonly found in Indiana lakes and streams without concern, however the concentrated presence of blue-green algae can be linked to some adverse health effects. Factors promoting algal growth include sunlight, warm weather, low turbulence, and nutrient sources, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, IDEM’s website said.
Harmful algal blooms, the Department of Health said, are blue-green algae that can produce a toxin, or poison, that can make humans and animals sick. Harmful blooms can have many colors and appear in different forms, making it difficult to tell a harmful algal bloom from non-harmful normal algae. Non-harmful, or green algae, do not produce toxins and are not harmful to human health.