The Medina County Park District has posted signs at Chippewa Lake warning about algal toxins in the water.
The district also is monitoring the lake at Hubbard Valley Park in Guilford Township.
Boats and fishermen still are able to use Chippewa Lake although algal toxins are high, the district said in a one-page statement.
Young children, pregnant and nursing women, the elderly and pets are warned to avoid contact with the water. The signs were posted Friday.
Colin Johnson, environmental health director with the Medina County Health Department, said Monday there are toxins produced by algae that affect humans’ liver, skin and nervous systems.
Harmful algal blooms are made up of bacteria that feeds on nutrients and flows into waterways from farms, wastewater treatment plants and other sources. Algal blooms are caused by factors such as water temperature, nutrient runoff from within a watershed and rainfall.
A hot summer and drought conditions have resulted in higher water temperatures and lower water levels in Chippewa Lake.
According to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, harmful algal blooms need sunlight, slow-moving water and nutrients made up of nitrogen and phosphorus to flourish.
Johnson said the signs and the news release mark the first level of alerting the public, and the next level is to avoid contact with the water completely.
An algal bloom was reported after July 4. Since then, testing results, which are reported in parts per million, have shown a continuing increase in toxic bacteria:
- July 7 — 0.315;
- July 20 — 0.349;
- Aug. 3 — 1.372;
- Aug. 17 — 3.967;
- Aug. 31 — 4.861;
- Sept. 15 — 7.372.
Levels above 6 ppm require public warning notices, according to the Ohio EPA.
The park district said it will continue monitoring Chippewa Lake weekly. The lake will be closed to the public if levels exceed 20 ppm.
Chippewa Lake Mayor Joanne Dodaro said she believes it is the first time a warning has been posted. She noted that boating and other water activities still may continue.
“They (park officials) are keeping us posted,” Dodaro said.
The park district has owned Chippewa Lake since 2007. Prior to that, Dudaro said, the water wasn’t tested regularly.
The regular water testing “is great for our residents because now we have the park monitoring the water,” Dodaro said.
Prior to the park taking over, Dodaro said, Chippewa Lake and Gloria Glens Village would test water after large storms.
At Hubbard Valley Park in Guilford Township, which allows fishing from the shore or boat but not swimming, water tested Sept. 15 indicated a toxin level of 2.331 ppm, attributed to the hot summer and infrequent rain. The park district said it will continue monitoring that lake as well.
Algal blooms have plagued Lake Erie in recent years, and in 2014, thousands of Toledo water customers were advised to not drink the water because toxins were found in the system.
Contact reporter Ashley Fox at (330) 721-4048 or email@example.com.