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Algae resurfaces at Vets
KDHE puts Veterans Lake on warning list
new deh vets lake pic web
Veterans Memorial Lake in Great Bend is again under a warning for toxic blue-green algae. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Lakes under a Kansas Department of Health and Environment warning or watch list include:

• Warning – Veterans Memorial Lake, Great Bend

• Warning – Brown State Fishing Lake, Brown County

• Warning – Central Park Lake, Shawnee County

• Warning – Hiawatha City Lake, Brown County

• Closed – Hodgeman State Fishing Lake, Hodgeman County

• Warning – Marion County Lake, Marion County

• Warning – Melvern Outlet River Pond, Osage County

• Warning – Melvern Outlet Swim Pond, Osage County

• Warning – Lake Scott State Park, Scott County

• Watch – Overbrook City Lake, Osage County

• Warning – Sam’s Pond, Syracuse, Hamilton County

• Warning – South Lake, Johnson County

• Watch – Veteran’s Lake, Cowley County

• Warning – Webster Lake, Rooks County

Great Bend’s Veterans Memorial Lake is again under a toxic blue-green algae warning, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism announced Thursday afternoon. It is one of 11 lakes under a warning and three under a watch.

If a lake is under a public health warning for blue-green algae, activities such as boating and fishing may be safe, the KDHE notes. However, direct contact with water (i.e., wading, skiing and swimming) is strongly discouraged for people, pets and livestock. 

Great Bend Public Lands Director Scott Keeler said he has been in contact with KDHE and CH2M Hill, the Englewood, Colo., engineering firm that has advised the city on remediation efforts.

They are trying to determine what size dose of alum nitrate is needed to shock the lake and bring the algae under control, he said. The non-toxic alum bonds with the phosphorus and algae, causing them to settle to the bottom and allowing nature to take its course.

In August, the Party in the Park boat races were canceled due to a minor toxic blue-green algae bloom. City crews noticed the problem prior to the event and immediately applied 2,600 gallons of alum. KDHE was not involved and there were no warnings at that time.

Once a dose is determined, the chemical will be introduced into the lake via the aerators over a couple of days. 

“We’re not the only ones to get hit,” Keeler said. Weather conditions have caused problems across the state.

More information

According to the KDHE, it is safe to eat fish caught during a harmful blue-green algae outbreak, as long as the fish is rinsed with clean water. Only the fillet portion should be consumed, and all other parts should be discarded. Hands should also be washed with clean water after handling fish taken from an affected lake.  When a warning is issued, KDHE recommends the following precautions be taken:

• Lake water is not safe to drink for pets or livestock.

• Lake water, regardless of blue-green algae status, should never be consumed by humans.

• Water contact should be avoided.

• Do not allow pets to eat dried algae.

• If lake water contacts skin, wash with clean water as soon as possible.

• Avoid areas of visible algae accumulation.

According to the KDHE, blooms are unpredictable. They can develop rapidly and may float around the lake, requiring visitors to exercise their best judgment. If there is scum, a paint-like surface or the water is bright green, avoid contact and keep pets away. These are indications that a harmful bloom may be present. 

Pet owners should be aware that animals that swim in or drink water affected by a harmful algal bloom or eat dried algae along the shore may become seriously ill or die.


The algae was an issue at Vets from 2010 through 2015. It led the KDHE to place the lake under a warning status and eventually caused a massive fish kill in August 2014.

The waste from geese that landed on the lake was a key contributor to the algae. Officials also tackled the amount of phosphorus entering the lake through storm water runoff, which occurs primarily through the introduction of lawn and crop fertilizers, washing of grass clippings and leaves into storm drains, etc. 

The City Council approved in 2014 contracting with CH2M Hill to remediate the problem. 

Efforts have included noise makers to scare away the birds and 5,200-gallon doses of aluminum sulfate, or alum, that was introduced into the lake in April through the oxygen diffusers. 

For information on blue-green algae and reporting potential harmful algal blooms, visit