The Des Moines River has 10 times the federal recommendation for microcystin, toxins that come from algae, according to the Iowa Capital Dispatch.
The algae feed on fertilizer runoff and manure and produce toxins that cause health issues like skin rashes, intestinal problems, and even liver damage.
The Des Moines River is one of the two largest sources of water to provide tap water and acts as a source of drinking water for around 500,000 Iowans. The toxins are suspected to originate at Saylorville Lake, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood-control reservoir that sits north of Des Moines.
This week’s On the Radio segment looks at a type of hazardous algae that’s become increasingly common in Iowa waterways. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.
As the summer comes to an end, late season beach-goers are advised to take extra precaution as algae blooms in Iowa lakes can be at peak levels.
This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.
Hot August temperatures coupled with high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in Iowa waterways provides the ideal breeding ground for algae. Certain forms of blue green algae can contain toxins that are harmful to humans and have even been known to kill dogs, livestock, and other animals.
Blue green algae are generally visible on the surface and can give the water a consistency similar to paint. The Iowa Department of Public Health advises any persons to immediately wash algae off themselves or pets that come in contact with it.
So far this summer, Saylorville Lake and Lake Red Rock, both in central Iowa, have reported high levels of blue green algae, and at least six other state-operated beaches across the state have seen high enough algae levels that swimming was not recommended.
For more information about blue green algae, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org.
From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.
Record levels of rain this spring and the resulting agricultural runoff are causing researchers to predict high levels of algae during the summer months that would put recreational water users at risk. Continue reading →
Listen to this week’s radio segment here. It discusses the impact that Miswestern runoff has on the Gulf of Mexico.
Imagine an area of the ocean equal to 20 percent of Iowa that’s unlivable for most marine life. This will soon be a reality in the Gulf of Mexico as they prepare for the largest dead zone in history. Continue reading →