Weeks of hot, dry weather have turned many of the reservoirs in the Great Plains to toxic soup.
For example, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Tuesday that all of Lake Texoma is now under a blue-green algae warning and water contact is prohibited.
To the north, meanwhile, Kansas’ largest fishery, Milford Reservoir, is suffering the same fate.
The Wichita Eagle reports that three dogs have died from ingesting Milford’s water and several people have become ill.
“As of right now, you can’t even fish from the bank,” said Brad Roether, owner of a fishing guide service. “Nothing is allowed: no boating, no fishing.”
He also said that resource managers were out in boats last weekend, telling people to get off the lake.
The Abilene Reflector-Chronicle decribed the situation this way:
The algal bloom has been the result of a “perfect storm.” The lake is about 14 feet over conservation pool of 1,144.4 feet above mean sea level. Because of high water and flooding downstream along most noticeably the Missouri River, the Corps has held water back in its lake, Harms said.
Rain in the Republican basin watershed has carried agricultural fertilizer and nutrients downstream into the reservoir. Since July a hot spell has struck and without much release from the outlets it has “turned the lake into a large farm pond.”
Algae thrive during hot, sunny weather, especially when water is calm. A day or two of clouds will slow down or even stop the blooms, as the sun can’t provide energy for growth. Wind and water flow also can break them down.
Extended cloud cover can lead to a die-off of the algae, which will burn up oxygen in the water as they deteriorate. And that can kill fish, especially if the blooms have had plenty of time and prime conditions to grow and spread.