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Ky.gov An Official Website of the Commonwealth of Kentucky

Energy and Environment Cabinet

Division of Water
Harmful Algal Blooms

​Blue-green algae occur naturally in the environment and are a vital part of the ecosystem. Harmful algal blooms arise when there are excess nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), sunny conditions, warm temperatures and low-flow or low-water conditions. The more typical green algae, which do not produce toxins, come in many forms and may appear as underwater moss or stringy mats.

Blue-green algae, on the other hand, appear as slicks of opaque, bright-green paint, but closer inspection often reveals the grainy, sawdust-like appearance of individual colonies or bacteria. The color of the algae may also appear red or brown.

 

HAB Advisories:
  • There are no current advisories


Lakes or rivers identified with a HAB advisory remain open to the public.


To report a HAB please contact the KY Division of Water at 502-564-3410.

Advisory Lifted: 

  • Recreational advisory for the Ohio River from the WV state line to the Markland Dam lifted on November 4, 2015.
  • Recreational advisory for the Cannelton and upper McAlpine pools of the Ohio River lifted on October 16, 2015.
  • Recreational advisory for the lower McAlpine pool of Ohio River lifted on October 9, 2015.
  • Lake Reba HAB recreational advisory (Madison County) on October 7, 2015.  

Recommended Precautions:

The following guidelines are recommended to avoid exposure to HABs:

  • Individuals should avoid direct contact with affected water that has unusual color or where blue-green algae have been identified, including swimming, wading, paddling, diving, and water skiing.
  • People who are prone to respiratory allergies or asthma should avoid areas with HABs. Children may be particularly sensitive.
  • If you come into contact with water containing blue-green algae, wash off with clean, fresh water. In some cases, skin irritation will appear after prolonged exposure. If symptoms persist, consult your local health care provider.
  • Fish fillets (not organs) may be consumed after the fillets have been rinsed in clean, non-lake water.
  • Prevent pets and livestock from coming into contact with water where HABs are apparent.

If you are concerned that you have symptoms that are a result of exposure to HABs please see your doctor and call your local health department.

Additional Information:

Kentucky Lakes — There are currently no active HAB advisories on lakes in Kentucky. However, HABs can develop over a short period of time. Visitors are still advised to be aware of the potential for a harmful algal bloom and follow the recommended precautions.

To read more about HABs, click on the links below:

 
 
Harmful Algal Bloom Photos