Latest Blue-Green Algae Test Comes In For Lake Texoma - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Latest Blue-Green Algae Test Comes In For Lake Texoma

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LAKE TEXOMA -- The latest test results are back on blue-green algae at Lake Texoma, but there's some disagreement about what they show.

The Army Corps of Engineers Tulsa District says don't drink the water, and just be aware of the algae, while the Grayson County Health Department, after an 18-month study, says they've found no problems with patients at hospitals, or with animals, and that algae isn't a problem at all.

"I've been swimming in this lake for 35 years and blue-green algae's always been here," says boater John St. Clair.

Army Corps project manager B.J. Parkey says about half of the eight sites tested had counts over 100,000 cells per millileter -- the benchmark set last May by Oklahoma Senate Bill 259.

"The idea with the bill was different testing -- same method, but how to read the results was different," says Highport Marina vice president Scott Hayward. "So between State Senator Josh Brecheen in Oklahoma and John Teel with the Grayson County Health Department, they really did a phenomenal job."

Parkey says the highest reading was around 178,000 cells, but toxicity levels were extremely low or not detectable.

Grayson County Health Department director John Teel disagrees with including cell counts at all. "What I've already encouraged the state of Oklahoma to do in writing is to revisit Senate Bill 259 and take away the cell counts," says Teel. "Cell counts above 100,000 are absolutely normal and generally harmless, so to have that as one of the two critical criteria is misleading to the public."

According to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation website, visitors should not drink the water or let pets into the water -- and swimming is discouraged -- at the Willis Bridge, Sheppard Annex, Little Mineral Arm, Little Glasses Arm, and Johnson Creek.

One marina manager we talked to says World Health Organization benchmarks should never have been used for algae here in Texoma.

"When you're talking about a third world country, their guidelines apply, but when you're talking about a very vibrant lake that's moving, it really is not an issue," says Hayward.   

"If we're going to scare people away from a lake, there should be something scary in the lake, and there's not," says Teel.

Treasure Island, Lakeside PUA, and East Burns Run tested okay. Officials say when they got the results back this week, they were alarmingly high, but it turned out the tester BSA Laboratories had made a calculation mistake by a factor of 1,000, and there was no cause for concern.

Parkey says if you have questions to check the state website. According to Senate Bill 259 signed by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin last year, the results are posted to the state Tourism and Recreation Department website.

Here is what the site reports:

"The most recent blue-green algae report was received from the lake manager on Friday, June 28th, 2013.

Testing was performed on June 24 & 25, 2013 and while blue green algae cell counts were elevated in the Hwy 377/99 Bridge, Sheppard Annex, Little Mineral Arm, Little Glasses Arm and Johnson Creek areas of Lake Texoma, toxicity levels reported on June 27, 2013 are below the World Health Organization threshold.  Visitors should not drink untreated water or let themselves or pets come in contact with areas of discolored water.  Although swimming in these areas is discouraged, visitors can still enjoy boating and many land activities around Lake Texoma.

In addition, recent water quality tests were performed at this lake and have shown that blue green algae did not pose a concern for recreational use in the areas of Treasure Island, Lakeside PUA and East Burns Run Beach of Lake Texoma at the time the tests were performed."