Lake Hulah, Bville city officials: Blue-green algae reports unconfirmed

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. - Bartlesville city officials say unconfirmed reports of blue-green algae in Hulah Lake, a source of the city's water supply, should cause no concern for Bartlesville's residents.

The Oklahoma state government run website on a lake conditions report dated Aug. 13 warns lake-goers of "a recent unconfirmed report of a possible blue-green algae bloom at Hulah Lake."

The site says however that "no water quality test results have been received yet" and warns those visiting the lake to be aware of the possibility of encountering bright green or blue-green scum, film or foam on the water and avoid contact with it.

" If you or your pet swim in water that may have blue-green algae present, rinse off with soap and fresh water," says the website.

According to Army Corp of Engineers Lead Ranger Dakota Allison of the Copan and Hulah Lakes region, the report mentioned on the website is not recent at all, but dates from a report submitted on June 18. Only recently was the website update to reflect the report.

As the control of Wah-Sha-She Park, the lake's recreation area, was turned over this year to the Osage Nation this spring, no longer does Army Corp of Engineers handle this information. The matter, he said, has been turned over to the Osage tribe.

Allison, however, did confirm with 2NEWS the presence of the toxin producing algae in Copan Lake.

"At Copan, we have had pretty high blue-green algae population over the last few weeks," he said, saying last week was the peak this summer, wind and nearly two inches of rain during the weekend dispersing the algae.

2NEWS contacting the Osage Nation about possible blue-green algae in Hulah Lake spoke with Bruce Cass.

"We are not aware of any tests that revealed any high levels of blue-green algae," he said, saying the Environmental and Natural Resources Department will collect samples within the next 30 days.

"We are going to do what we can to collect samples and create a safe area."

As Bartlesville's municipal water is supplied by Hulah Lake by way of the city's Lake Hudson, 2NEWS spoke with City of Bartlesville Water Director Mike Hall to see what the reports of blue-green algae mean for Bartlesville.

"We won't speculate on unconfirmed reports," he said. "If it was confirmed, it would have to be found in significant quantities to cause a problem."

"Just because it is found, it doesn't mean it will be a detriment to our water supply," he said, saying that first the algae may be appearing in other sections of the lake from where the city's water is drawn and second, that by the time the water reaches Bartlesville, passing first through Hudson Lake, the amount of toxin released by the algae would be severely diluted.

He said a study being conducted by engineering firm Black & Veatch on the city's water supply to resolve an issue of bad tasting water due to algal compounds such as 2-Methylisoborneol (MIB) and geosmin will also address any possible issue of toxins from blue-gree algae.

"We'll be looking at that as one of the things in the study."

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