GRDA advises public to stay out of Grand Lake

UPDATE FROM MEETING:  After an emergency meeting with the board of directors of the Grand River Dam Authority, the board has made a decision regarding the future of Grand Lake.

The board has decided to continue posting signs and advising the public to stay out of the water.

While they recommend the public to not come into contact with the waters of Grand Lake, they are not prohibiting it.

They say the major focus of concern is on pets and young children. Friday's blue-green algae (BGA) levels are higher than ever recorded before in Oklahoma. The GRDA says if algae blooms die all at once, the amount of toxins released into the water would become even more dangerous.

GRDA officials continue to recommend that no one get in the lake. They also discourage people from using lake water to water their lawns.

Officials also caution boaters. They say the spray and fine mist from boats could increase the risk of people breathing in the BGA.

The GRDA and Department of Environmental Quality believe the situation continues to worsen. Both groups say the August-like temperatures combined with a nutrient-rich lake caused by recent flooding creates the perfect storm of circumstances, which led to this situation.

 

TULSA - Sources tell 2News that Grand Lake will likely be closed this Fourth of July weekend, due to an explosion of blue-green algae (BGA), and now, the Grand River Dam Authority is advising the public to stay out of Grand Lake waters.

"We strongly discourage any body contact with the water at this point," said Justin Alberty, GRDA corporate communications director. "That means no swimming or any other activities that would bring you into contact with lake water."

Governor Mary Fallin has encouraged those planning trips to Grand to not cancel their plans . She says she and her family are still going on their planned trip to the lake.

Alberty said the rapidly changing conditions of the algae levels and areas in the lake are concerning. Earlier in the week, BGA was confirmed in several locations of Grand Lake. After further monitoring, it appears there is the potential for the algae to be in all the major coves and areas of the main lake.

"Test results from late yesterday (Thursday) afternoon showed BGA toxicity at higher levels than before, and this is a situation that continues to develop rapidly," said Alberty.  "We strongly discourage anyone from getting into the lake at this point."

An emergency meeting of the GRDA Board of Directors was called for Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the offices of New Dominion, LLC located at 1307 S. Boulder Ave.

The GRDA Board of Directors will be briefed on the lake conditions during the meeting. At that time, it will discuss the other alternatives for dealing with the Grand Lake BGA issue.

Tests have already shown BGA in Party Cove, Ketchum Cove and the swimming beach at Bernice State Park.

"Both the GRDA Ecosystems Department and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality have monitored this issue for several days, and its safe to say that it has rapidly progressed, even in the last 24 hours," said Alberty.

An orange fence is set up along the contaminated shorelines near some of the more popular swimming areas at the lake.

For many people, some who are already at the lake, this is not what they wanted to see this weekend and could mean a last minute change of holiday plans.

BGA are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams, usually in low numbers. However, the algae can become abundant in shallow, warm water that receives heavy sunlight. While most BGA are not toxic, toxins can be produced in some algae blooms. That is what has occurred on Grand Lake and continues to develop.

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