The Army Corps of Engineers will continue to keep swim beaches closed for now on Nimrod Lake because of elevated blue green algae levels.
The Corps tested samples July 25 from the lake after suspected blue green algae blooms were spotted along some parts of the shoreline. Test results are in and have confirmed a high level of the algae.
Testing revealed blue green algae levels ranged from 188,000 to 422,000 cells per milliliter of water. Meanwhile, the tests showed only light levels of toxins that occur when this algae breaks down. It is the toxins that can pose health risks to those who come in contact with the water. All samples for toxins showed fewer than 5 micrograms per liter.
Arkansas does not currently have a blue green algae standard. However, the states of Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas, where such blooms have impacted lakes more often, use a threshold of 100,000 cells per milliliter for blue green algae and 20 micrograms per liter for toxins.
The beach closures are a precautionary measure. Officials explained that weather conditions affect the algae blooms. Hot weather could cause the blooms to expand, while cooler weather will generally help to check the algae’s growth.
The blooms could continue to cause issues for the rest of the summer.
In addition to testing for blue green algae, the Arkansas Department of Health is testing water samples for e-coli at the lake’s swim beaches. Those test results are expected to be available July 30.
The Corps will monitor levels of blue green algae toxins until tests confirm that it is below safe levels.
The Corps closed all swim beaches on Lake Nimrod July 23 and posted signs to alert visitors that contact with lake water, including swimming, wading and skiing is discouraged until algae blooms have dissipated and tests confirm that it is safe
Corps officials said boating and fishing is allowed but urges visitors to avoid algae when out on the lake.
Visitors are advised not to drink untreated lake water and to avoid areas with visible algae accumulations or discolored water. Children and animals are the most susceptible to illness and skin irritations when exposed to toxic algae.
If you come in contact with harmful algae, wash with clean water. Call a doctor if you or your animals experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rash, eye irritation, respiratory symptoms, or other unexplained illness.
For more information on the status of recreation on Nimrod Lake call the Nimrod Project Office at 479-272-4324, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Little Rock District news and recreation information can be found at www.about.me/usacelittlerock