Despite Toxic Status, Ohio Lake is Open (NBC33 VIDEO)

By Eric DeFreeuw

May 27, 2013 Updated May 27, 2013 at 5:28 PM EST

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.nbc33.com) – While the weather didn’t make it very appealing to spend Memorial Day at the lake, one Ohio community has another not-so-appealing reason to stay away from the water: toxic algae.

Once again residents of Grand Lake St. Mary’s are being warned of potentially dangerous levels of toxic algae growing in the lake. Every year since 2010 warning signs have been posted around the lake indicating the water may not be safe to swim in.

Yet according to lake officials, aside from those with vulnerable immune systems – meaning very young children and the elderly – the lake is ready to enjoy.

"The basic problem with our lake is, we are nutrient-rich, primarily phosphorus in our lake,” says Milton Miller, Grand Lake St. Mary’s Restoration Manager. “The phosphorus feeds the algae and when the algae die it kicks off a toxin. And that caused all our problems and labeled us as a toxic lake. But I can tell you that everybody comes to our lake are surprised at how gorgeous it is, the sunsets are beautiful, et cetera."

Despite popular belief, the lake does not look like something you’d see in the old "Creature From the Black Lagoon" film, in fact the only thing you'll notice about the lake is that it has a green hue. Typically the lake will appear browner.

As a caution though, boaters and swimmers are still advised to avoid drinking lake water, and are told to shower off upon exiting the lake to avoid potential exposure to the algae.

Miller otherwise confirms the water is safe and the fish have been tested over and over and are clean enough to catch and eat. A number of ecological efforts are being done to revive the lake’s non-toxic reputation.

While it took a major hit back in 2010 when the outbreak was first detected, Miller says the lake community has begun noticing an upward trend in local economy as more and more tourists and events begin coming back to the lake.




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