A ‘no-contact’ water advisory has been issued for the Miami-Erie Canal after high levels of the algal toxin microcystin were discovered in the water. The advisory is effective for the canal from the GLSM feeder to 40-Acre Pond (see map here). The canal in this area is fed by Grand Lake St. Marys. From a press release jointly issued by the Ohio Departments of Health, Natural Resources, and Environmental Protection Agency:
Latest Grand Lake St. Marys Sampling Results Announced; Beaver Creek, Miami-Erie Canal and St. Marys River Also Checked Ohio EPA has received the latest lab reports for toxins produced by the bluegreen algae species at Grand Lake St. Marys. Microcystin levels are down significantly this week; however, anatoxin-a levels have risen. The no-contact advisory remains in place.
Additionally, sampling was conducted in the Miami-Erie Canal, the St. Marys River and Beaver Creek by Ohio EPA or local entities to check microcystin levels. Water samples were taken by the U.S. Geological Survey at the three state park beaches, East Beach, West Beach and Campground Beach, on Monday, August 2. Microcystin levels range from 3.2 to 81 parts per billion (ppb) in samples taken of water and the algal scum. The levels are higher in the scum. The World Health Organization (WHO) has set 20 ppb as the upper end of the moderate-risk range for contact with microcystin. Microcystin is a liver toxin.
Anatoxin-a levels are at their highest point of the summer, ranging from 3 ppb at the Camp Beach, to 15 ppb at East Beach. Anatoxin-a is a neurotoxin. Tests for other nerve toxins, saxitoxin and cylindrospermopsin were non-detect. There are no WHO guidelines for these toxins. Because microcystin levels fluctuate, still exceed the WHO recommendations and anatoxin-a is above non-detect, the State of Ohio is maintaining the advisory levels at the lake to ensure public health. At this time, the state recommends people do not contact the water, do not allow pets to contact the water and do not take boats onto the lake.
Additionally, Ohio EPA urges people not to eat fish caught in Grand Lake St. Marys. The Celina Water Department also evaluated samples from its drinking water intake, where the most recent microcystin levels were low (4.2 and 5.1 ppb). It is important to continue noting that Celina’s treated drinking water is tested regularly and remains safe and free of algal toxins. Samples taken Wednesday, August 4, in Beaver Creek at the Route 127 bridge had microcystin levels of 7.5 ppb. Samples from four locations in the Miami and Erie Canal had microcystin ranging from non-detect to 27.7 ppb. Beaver Creek and the canal were not evaluated for other algal toxins. St. Marys River results were non-detect for microcystin.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will be posting water contact advisory signs along the canal in the St. Marys area. No advisories have been issued for the river or creek. However, people are reminded to use caution to avoid ingestion of the water and wash off afterward any time they have contact with any non-chlorinated surface water.
The Celina Water lab ran all samples for microcystin. Green Water Labs in Florida conducted the analysis on the other three toxins.
For additional information, go to www.epa.ohio.gov/pic/glsm_algae.aspx.
For information on algal toxins’ danger to pets and livestock, go to www.epa.ohio.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=UFRe5bxCasU=tabid=4659.
For an updated fact sheet about the Grand Lake situation, go to http://www.epa.ohio.gov/portals/47/citizen/GLSMfactsheet.pdf.