Tuesday, August 17, 2010

West Branch algae bloom may threaten bass tournament

Area tournament fishing pro Richie Glavic may have reason to worry about an up-coming bass angling contest at West Branch Reservoir in Portage County, located just south of Geauga County.

Glavic said Tuesday during a visit to Gander Mountain's Mentor store where he works that organizers of a local bass-fishing tournament are considering moving the up-coming contest to another location due to potential water quality issues at the lake.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has issued a "Bloom Advisory" for the 2,616-acre impoundment. Under such an advisory the Natural Resources Department says "An Algae bloom has made this area potentially unsafe for water contact. Avoid direct contact with visible surface scum."

The "Bloom Advisory" is the least "serious" of the three advisories issued by the state. Presently, there are eight lakes under this advisory, including West Branch Reservoir.

The most severe cautionary note is the state's "No Contact Advisory" where people are urged to avoid "any & all contact with or ingestion of the lake water." Grand Lake St. Marys and Cutler Lake in Blue Rock State Park are the only two Ohio waterways under this advisory.

Natural Resources Department spokeswoman Heidi Hetzel-Evans also says that water samples were taken at West Branch. These tests are designed to identify the species of algae and also whether or not they are releasing any toxins.

Hetzel-Evens said results for at least some testing elements may be known as early as later today, Tuesday.

Updates will be provided as they become available.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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