The Kansas Water Office has received more than $2.5 million from the federal government to help fight harmful algae blooms in the state's largest lake.
Blue-green algae is a normal part of many lakes, but if it reproduces too much, it can turn a lake toxic. Health officials detected the first large harmful algae bloom on Milford Lake, near Manhattan, in 2011, and have continued to see the problem come back every year since.
Earl Lewis of the Kansas Water Office says the main cause of the outbreaks is an increase in the amount of phosphorus rich runoff coming from farms and fields. He says the additional funding from the National Resources Conservation Service will help officials better target their efforts to reduce it.
“It’s a lot of on farm practices that producers can use to try and change the way that that runoff happens or doesn’t from their fields,” he says.
The project is a collaboration between 28 public and private organizations with ties to the lake and the resources it provides.
Brian Grimmett is an energy and environment reporter for KMUW’s Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @briangrimmett.