The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park staff’ at Blue Marsh Lake are preparing for another summer recreation season and all the challenges associated with hot weather, including harmful algal blooms in the lake.
In 2021, USACE worked with the Pennsvlvania Department of Environmental Protection to conduct sampling and testing at different Blue Marsh Lake locations.
Subsequently, USACE issued advisories and closures of the Swim Beach due to test results that indicated high levels of blue-green algae and the potential for harmful toxins produced by the algae.
In preparation for another HABs season, USACE has developed a strategic plan for monitoring, sharing risk information, and managing harmful algal blooms. As part of the initiative to find innovative and effective solutions to HABs, USACE has partnered with EM Fluids Inc, and Liberty Environmental to conduct an efficacy trial for algal bloom management using an EMF 1000 treatment device.
In laboratory and field studies, the device has demonstrated the promotion of increased oxygen transfer from air to water, reduction of excess nutrients in the water column, reduction of sludge/sediment accumulation, reduction of unwanted algae, and improvements to aesthetic characteristics such as odor, water clarity, and color.
Fish studies indicate the device does not negatively impact the behavior or health of fish.
Blue Marsh Lake visitors may come upon the floating devices in the lake while boating. If seen, please do not touch, remove, or disturb any equipment or materials as this could damage the devices and negatively affect vital data collection.
Also, report any vandalism or tampering with the devices to the Park Office immediately. Any individuals found tampering with research equipment will be cited.
HABs conditions can change very quickly in the lake. Heavy rainfall and significant runoff convev nutrients to the reservoir. When followed by hot weather, blue-green algae can thrive and multiply. Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms found naturally in all types of water.
In warm, nutrient-rich environments, cyanobacteria can multiply quickly, creating blooms that spread across the water’s surface. These blooms can create toxins that are harmful to humans and pets.
To protect yourself, your family, and your pets from harmful algal blooms: Avoid water contact in areas where the water is discolored or where you see foam, scum, or mats of algae on the water’s surface. When in doubt. stay out! Children and pets are especially susceptible to the harmful effects of the toxins produced by blue-green algae. Do not allow children or pets to play in or drink scummy water.
If you have contact with water that might contain harmful cyanobacteria, rinse off with fresh water as soon as possible afterwards.
Learn more about Harmful Algal Blooms and their associated risks by visiting https://www.dep.pa.gov/Business/Water/HABs or https://www.cdc.gov/habs/illness-svmptoms-freshwater.html
USACE will continue to conduct testing at different locations at Blue Marsh Lake and provide harmful algal bloom updates appropriately.