ST. PARIS – Beachgoers planning to spend the Fourth of July holiday enjoying a swim at Kiser Lake State Park may want to rethink their plans after test results of the water showed unsafe levels of microcystin, a toxin produced by cyanobacteria or harmful algal blooms.
Eric Heis, a spokesperson with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said Friday that on June 28, ODNR – which monitors the lake on behalf of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) – issued an “elevated recreational public health advisory” for Kiser Lake.
According to information posted on BeachGuard, a website used by state beach officials to post monitoring data and notifications, the advisory is due to the level of microcystin in the water being recorded at 25 ppg (parts per billion), which exceeds the state’s threshold of 20 ppg.
“At the current level, everyone is advised to stay out of the water,” Heis said.
He added the elevated advisory is just that, an advisory letting people know the water possesses health risks if ingested. The advisory isn’t something enforceable by law.
“We don’t keep people out of the water, close beaches or close parks,” Heis said.
From June 21 to June 28, Kiser Lake was under a regular “recreational public health advisory” after the toxin levels came back at 11.7 ppg, well above the 6 ppg advisory-triggering threshold.
Under this advisory, Heis said, ODH recommends pets, children and pregnant or nursing women refrain from swimming or wading in the water.
Historical data posted on BeachGuard shows that since 2012, Kiser Lake has been issued four separate contamination advisories (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016) with the longest lasting 27 days in 2015. Last July, the lake was placed under a 14-day “recreational public health advisory.”
Heis said the “elevated” advisory will remain through at least the Fourth of July holiday as tests are conducted on a weekly basis. Kiser Lake won’t be tested again until July 5. Until then, all caution signs will remain in place.
This weekend, Buckeye Lake’s beaches (Fairfield County) and those at Grand Lake St. Marys (Auglaize County) are under the same elevated advisory as Kiser Lake.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.