Advisory issued on Morrison Lake for potentially harmful algae

Ionia County

BOSTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A public health advisory has been issued for Morrison Lake in Ionia County after water samples found potentially harmful algae.

The advisory was issued by the county and state health departments after water samples taken Wednesday showed a type of cyanobacteria, which can produce toxins that result in harmful algal bloom. 

“There are algae in quite a few parts of the lake when they tested yesterday,” said Ken Bowen, the health officer at the Ionia County Health Department. “So again, people need to be careful when they go out there. Five of eight samples did have some algae.”

A sign at Morrison Lake in Ionia County warning people of an advisory for potentially harmful algae. (July 1, 2021)

People and pets are being advised to avoid direct body contact with water that looks scummy, looks like spilled paint or has a green sheen to it. The scum may also have flecks, foam or clumps.

“If they see that, they should stay away from it, they should not swim in it, keep their boat away from it,” Bowen said. “Don’t let their children or pets go near, whether in water or on shore.”

The toxins in a harmful algal bloom can affect the liver, nervous system and skin. Reactions can include a rash, an allergic reaction, stomachache and dizziness or light-headedness. If you come into contact with algal bloom, you should rinse it off your body and seek medical treatment.

Geoff Dominczak lives on the lake. He welcomes the advisory even if the water doesn’t look as bad as it did in 2019

“I think it’s wise, you see a lot of little kids out here,” Dominczak said. “Some parents don’t know of dangers that exist and I think it’s wise to let people know.”

Dominczak says its a persistent problem, one that is a result of the lay of the land. A golf course and farms are located near the lake. He thinks fellow residents can do their part to address the issue. 

“Golf course, farm and a bunch of people that fertilize. We’ve got a lot of things that most lakes don’t deal with it,” he said. “It would be wise for people on the lake to know, do you really need a super green lawn? Or can you sacrifice, maybe fertilize less or use organic fertilizer and use less of it?”

Bowen says the lake will be treated on Friday. 

He says updates will be posted on the Ionia County Health Department’s Facebook page.

This guidance is subject to change as the number of algae changes and more testing is done. 

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