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Posted 7/16/2013

Release no. 13-012

Diane Stratton

LOUISVILLE, KY - The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers is cautioning recreational users such as swimmers and boaters at Rough River Lake, about possible contact with a bloom of blue-green algae. The harmful algal bloom is capable of producing toxins that can be especially harmful to small children, those with illness and animals but visitors can take precautions to reduce or eliminate the impacts.


The lake remains open to recreational users for swimming, boating, etc. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the lake, but be aware of the possibility of adverse health impacts associated with contact with the water.


“We want to keep the public informed of the harmful algal blooms and let everyone know of simple precautions lake visitors can take while still enjoying our recreational opportunities,” said Diane Stratton, Rough River Lake Corps park manager.


Precautionary measures include:

  • Avoiding contact with visible algae and not swallowing water while swimming.
  • Taking a bath or shower with warm, soapy water after coming in contact with water in ponds and lakes, especially before preparing or consuming food.
  • Pets and livestock should also not be allowed to swim in or drink untreated water from these sources. Livestock, pets and wild animals can be poisoned by the toxins produced by some algal blooms. Small animals can ingest a toxic dose quickly.
  • Dogs are particularly susceptible to blue-green algae poisoning because the scum can attach to their coats and be swallowed during self-cleaning.
  • Remove fish skin and organs before cooking, do not consume or allow pets/animals to consume the organs or skin.


Although the algal cell counts are just more than the threshold of the World Health Organization cautionary level, the algae levels are at a higher risk of causing health concerns for all people and animals who come in contact with the water. Visitors to the lake must consider risks before participating in water-related activities.  The public who swim, boat or enter the water is now at higher risk to experience adverse health effects if they come in contact with water from the lake. 


Discomfort and illness can happen to people, pets, livestock and all animals. Children, pets, and individuals susceptible or already experiencing illness or a rash are at a much higher risk of affects of blue-green algae than others.


Clinical signs of blue green algae poisoning in animals include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, weakness, seizures and  in extreme levels of toxins, sudden death, especially in livestock.


The Corps of Engineers is working with the Kentucky Department of Water, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Kentucky Department for Public Health and the Kentucky Department of Parks to:


  • Continue water quality monitoring and provide results to the public
  • Monitor any potential blooms on site at the lake
  • Post advisories at the lake in conspicuous places – either “advisory” (potential health affects) or “caution” (more significant risk of health impacts of HAB)
  • Keep boaters, swimmers and those who recreate at the lake informed of the possible risks


Rough River Lake provides water to local water/utility companies. The utility companies of Grayson County and Leitchfield have been notified of the algal blooms.  For specific inquiries about your drinking water quality, contact your utility office.


Grayson County Water District

Phone: 270-259-2917


Leitchfield Utilities

Phone: 270-259-4501

Email: leitchfieldwater@windstream.net


Factors promoting algal growth include sunlight, warm weather, low turbulence, and nutrient sources, such as phosphorus and nitrogen. Phosphorous is particularly important in fueling cyanobacteria growth.


For information on harmful algal blooms and updates on the levels at Corps lakes, visit: http://www.lrl.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/WaterInformation/HABs.aspx