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For Immediate Release
April 11, 2024
Stephanie Birmingham


Lake Afton Monitored for Harmful Levels of Blue-Green Algae

(Sedgwick County, Kan.) – With the weather heating up, Sedgwick County – in collaboration with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) – are already monitoring Lake Afton for harmful levels of blue-green algae. Currently, conditions at Lake Afton do NOT warrant a public health advisory, but on April 4, 2024, the state issued this year’s first blue-green algae warning for Harvey County East Lake.

A harmful algal bloom (HAB) may look like foam, scum or paint floating on the water and be colored blue, bright green, brown or red. Click here to see local examples of blue-green algae. Blooms can develop rapidly. If the water appears suspicious or there is decaying algae on the shore, avoid contact and keep pets away. Animals that swim in or drink water affected by a harmful algal bloom or eat dried algae along the shore may become seriously ill or die. These toxins can be absorbed by ingestion, inhalation of aerosols and even skin contact. Symptoms vary depending upon the type of exposure but can include rash, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, sore throat and headache. If you or your pets come into contact with algae, rinse the area with clean, fresh water. Suspected HAB-related health incidents, whether human or animal, regardless of season, should be reported at KDHE Algal Bloom Incident Report.

KDHE will issue the following advisories, as needed, in the months ahead:

A Hazard status indicates that a harmful algal bloom is present, and extreme conditions exist. 

  • Signage should be posted at all public access locations.
  • It is recommended that either a portion of the lake or the entire lake or zone be closed to the public.
  • In some cases, the adjacent land should be closed as well. Actual setback distances will be determined on a site-specific basis, if necessary.
  • When partial closures (i.e., beach or cove) are issued, the remaining lake or zone area will carry a warning status.

 A Warning status indicates that conditions are unsafe for human and pet exposure. 

  • Signage should be posted at all public access locations.
  • Water contact should be avoided. 
  • Inhalation of spray or aerosols may be harmful.
  • Lake water is not safe to drink for pets or livestock.
  • Do not allow pets to eat dried algae. 
  • Fish may be eaten if they are rinsed with clean water and only the fillet portion is consumed, while all other parts are discarded. 
  • If lake water contacts skin, wash with clean water as soon as possible. 
  • Avoid areas of visible algae accumulation. 

 A Watch status means that blue-green algae have been detected and a harmful algal bloom is present or likely to develop. People are encouraged to avoid areas of algae accumulation and keep pets and livestock away from the water.

  • Signage should be posted at all public access locations.
  • Water may be unsafe for humans/animals.
  • Avoid areas of algae accumulation, and do not let people/pets eat dried algae or drink contaminated water.
  • Swimming, wading, skiing and jet skiing are discouraged near visible blooms.
  • Boating and fishing are safe. However, inhalation of the spray may affect some individuals. Avoid direct contact with water, and wash with clean water after any contact.
  • Clean fish thoroughly with potable water and eat fillet portion only.

Advisories are lifted, when cell densities and toxin concentrations dissipate to levels below the Watch thresholds.

KDHE investigates publicly accessible bodies of water for blue-green algae, when the agency receives reports of potential algae blooms in Kansas lakes. Based on credible field observation and sampling results, KDHE reports on potentially harmful conditions. 

To check the status of a Kansas lake or to learn more about the health risks of harmful algal blooms, visit: