Blue-green algae bloom closes two beaches in southern Iowa's Rathbun Lake

CENTERVILLE, Iowa- Crews are dealing with a potentially toxic blue-green algae bloom at a couple of locations at Rathbun Lake, in southern Iowa. The Kansas City District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has closed two beaches temporarily, including Buck Creek and Island View beaches. The water at those locations has tested positive for the algal toxin microcystin in concentrations exceeding Iowa Department of Natural Resources standards.

While the public designated beaches, Buck Creek and Island View, are closed. Marinas, lakeside businesses and park camping facilities are open for business.

Crews have seen the present algae bloom at many areas of Rathbun Lake; from the dam to upper lake areas including Corps of Engineers’ beaches and boat ramps.

Blue-green algae blooms are unpredictable. They can develop rapidly and may float or drift 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 all water contact and keep pets away.  

Dogs are highly susceptible to algae toxins and frequently ingest concentrated toxins from shoreline areas. Pets that contact water affected by a harmful algal bloom or eat dried algae along the shore may become seriously ill or even die.

The Corps of Engineers says drinking water and showers at campgrounds are safe and not affected by algae bloom. Boating and fishing are also safe, and fish caught during a blue-green algae outbreak is safe as long as the fish is rinsed with clean water. Only the fillet portion should be eat, and other parts thrown out. Officials say hands should also be washed with clean water after handling fish taken from an affected lake.

The Corps of Engineers will continue to monitor the algae bloom and will provide updates as conditions warrant and will notify the public with toxin test results and as conditions change on the lake.

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