Trevor Flynn's test tube for evaluating effectiveness of a hydrogen peroxide-based treatment applied to harmful blue-green algae is a 100-acre pond near the outlet of Milford Reservoir.
"This is our first opportunity we've had to do this," said Flynn, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's watershed planning, monitoring and assessment section chief.
A KDHE contractor began applying algaecide Tuesday to the Milford gathering pond in Geary County. The pilot project, budgeted for about $35,000, was designed to introduce treatment on three-fourths of the pond at a depth of 3 feet. The contractor's aquatic algaecide is registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Some blooms on Kansas lakes result from excess nutrients, especially phosphorus and nitrogen carried from fields into water. The higher concentration of nutrients promotes growth of algae that renders the water undrinkable for humans and pets.
The effect of treatment on desirable plants, fish and other aquatic life will be negligible, Flynn said. He said there would be no water use restrictions related to peroxide-based application.
The formula has been shown to provide rapid reduction in cyanobacteria in lakes, he said, but the potential on vast bodies of water subject to wave action hasn't been fully explored through KDHE.
Flynn said the plan was to conduct testing Monday for toxins and eventually determine the value of targeted in-lake treatment of algae blooms.
KDHE has recorded 17 public lake blooms so far in 2019 and documented 32 infestations in 2018 and 26 in 2017. The previous high was 24 in 2012.
The Milford pond was chosen because it was a contained body of water under a public health advisory warning due to algae blooms since June 27. The reservoir has been a source of periodic blooms since 2011, with significant eruptions from 2014 to 2016.
The agency said the pilot program would assess treatment of blooms tied to Milford and the Marion Reservoir near Hillsboro.
KDHE routinely advises the public about development of blooms and that wind or wave action moved infestations around a lake. A visual cue of a bloom to be avoided by people and pets would be appearance of scum or paint-like surface on water or a bright green coloration of the water.
Additional information on blue-green algae and reporting of potential harmful blooms can be found at www.kdheks.gov/algae-illness/index.htm.