Officials: Harmful algae might be in Morrison Lake

Ionia County

BOSTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Health officials are alerting the public that there could be potentially harmful algae in Morrison Lake near Clarksville.

The Ionia County Health Department issued the advisory Wednesday for the lake just south of I-96 in Boston Township. In a release, health officials said most algal blooms are not harmful, but that a type of toxin that can produce a harmful bloom was found in two water samples taken Tuesday.

The toxins in a harmful algal bloom can affect the liver, nervous system and skin.

A photo of Morrison Lake after test detected a toxin that a can produce a harmful algae bloom. (Aug. 21, 2019)
A photo of Morrison Lake after test detected a toxin that can produce a harmful algae bloom. (Aug. 21, 2019)

Officials say people and pets should avoid direct contact with water in the lake that looks scummy, looks like spilled paint or has a green sheen to it. People and pets should avoid swallowing the lake’s water.

Ken Bowen, health officer with the Ionia County Health Department, said the affected parts of the lake look like “pea soup.”

A resident living along the lake said she first noticed the algae last week.

“I stuck my foot in it and it was like this green slime,” Jeanne Hewitt-Fleck said. “I brushed it off and it was as thick as mustard.”

Hewitt-Fleck has kept away from the water since then, while other boaters are steering around the contaminated areas.

“I’m not too concerned about it because I would go where the clear water was,” Donald Harnish said. “The fish are still healthy and I’m eating them.”

No possible cases of people or pets being affected have been reported to the health department, it said.

Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy officials intend to take additional samples this week.

Coincidentally, a meeting is scheduled to discuss improvements to Morrison Lake. That meeting will start at 7 p.m. Monday at Campbell Township Hall.

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