ST. MARYS — In an effort to keep residents abreast of algal concerns in Ohio waterways, state officials unveiled a new website Monday to serve as a one-stop shop.
OhioAlgaeInfo.com will serve as a website residents can visit that will provide up-to-date information regarding algal outbreaks and any current advisories for Ohio waterways. The response strategy includes three recreational use advisories as well as drinking water advisories.
“We wanted to provide a one-stop shop for people to look up advisory levels and toxin data,” Ohio EPA spokesperson Heidi Griesmer told The Evening Leader. “We are not going to issue a news release every time so we want people to look at the website before they go so they can see if there is an advisory.”
The first option is an algae bloom advisory, which will be posted when an algal bloom has been detected in state waterways. Algal blooms often have the capability of producing toxins; however, the toxin also may not be present. Under this advisory, the public should avoid ingesting water and coming into contact with surface scum.
The second option is a public health advisory. This advisory would be posted if testing shows microcystin levels to be at 6 parts per billion. If posted, the advisory would warn against swimming or wading in the water in addition to the warnings issued in the algae bloom advisory. Grand Lake St. Marys is currently under a public health advisory because recent testing showed levels ranging from 3.3 ppb at West Beach to 23.7 near the intake.
The third option is a no contact advisory. This advisory would be posted if microcystin levels exceeded 20 ppb and there has been reports of human illness or pet death. If a no contact advisory is posted, the state also may sample the lake to determine if an open water no contact advisory should be posted. Fishing and boating would not be impacted by a no contact advisory.
“It makes it easy and clear when we go to a different advisory level,” Griesmer said. “It will be updated whenever we get new information. We tried to make it a little more intuitive and easier to remember to find the information.”