Toxins in local lake 3,000 percent higher than normal level

An algae advisory posted on the shore of Harsha Lake in East Fork State Park. (FOX19)
An algae advisory posted on the shore of Harsha Lake in East Fork State Park. (FOX19)

CLERMONT COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - An advisory has been posted on the shore of the lake at East Fork State Park in Clermont County after officials found it contained 3,000 percent more toxins than its normal acceptable levels.

An algae bloom, which is harmful to humans, was recently spotted in the lake, prompting Ohio's Department of Natural Resources to sample the water. Test results showed a higher concentration of Cyanobacteria Toxins, also known as a blue-green algae bloom, present in the lake.

Symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning are rashes, allergic reaction, stomach ache, light-headedness or dizziness. ODNR recommends those with weak immune systems to stay out of the water, but they're leaving, but they say residents have the final say.

"By no means is the lake closed, by no means is swimming prohibited, by no means are the beaches closed, all that the State of Ohio and the ODNR does is we post this advisory and it's up to the guest to make their decision," said Mark Bruce with ODNR.

Fertilizer and nutrient runoff contributes to the growth of the blue-green algae, according to Chief Meteorologist Steve Horstmeyer. 77 percent of the surrounding land that drains into the lake is used for agricultural purposes and the lack of movement inside the lake further contributes to the growth.

Steve says conditions this time of year are also a factor in the development of blue-green algae.

The amount of daylight has increased in the summer season, optimizing the photosynthetic algae's growth and keeping the water temperature high.

The lake in East Fork State Park, which is named the William H. Harsha Lake, is a dammed fork of the Little Miami River. It is not uncommon for an advisory for the blue-green algae to be posted in the summer months.

ODNR will test East Fork Lake weekly and the advisory will be removed once the results come in algae-free for two straight weeks.

FOX19's Lindsey Wopschall and Steve Horstmeyer contributed in this story.

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