We watch the weather reports for the relative humidity because it is how hot we know it will feel when we are out in it, while always listening for the words announcing the dreaded microcystin or commonly known as blue green algae (BGA) with its distinct color and texture.
It was detected July 6 on Grand Lake in the Ketchum cove. The BGA bloom could be seen extending from near the Hammerhead Marina boat ramp eastward toward Colony Cove according to GRDA. I wonder if it might have also been seen during our 4th holiday but the announcement saved for day after reporting to SAVE the lake tourism from the mass exodus the lake experienced when it occurred right before a previous July 4th weekend. THAT notice was handled by the state health department because is it a health emergency requiring immediate action. BUT all things can become political?
Yes, the responsibility of both detecting and making the public announcements were removed from the health department. But if you search those words on the Oklahoma Department of Health site you will find a great deal of information on health and environmental effects and impacts. You just might not find it in time. The state of Oklahoma blew its responsibility to protect us.
Pay attention this substance has color that grabs you. It is mind-blowing color and a texture you must not engage, don't drive a boat through it, even the spray is dangerous when air borne and inhaled. Your Senator Inhofe dove himself into it a few years ago and caused a holiday shut down and the state of Oklahoma figured out how to keep their lakes open for business in case it happened again. And it has. Maybe that is part of the reason he wants the lake deeper? Thinking delusion is the solution?
The other thing that has happened this week all over the United States, carried out by the Waterkeeper Alliance was the largest most extensive PFAS monitoring study ever conducted in this country to analyze samples taken simultaneously in surface waters. LEAD Agency's Grand Riverkeeper, Martin Lively and the Tar Creekkeeper, Rebecca Jim, both walked and boated to collect their samples for the study. So what is PFAS and why would we want to know if it can be detected in our waterbodies?
We know about bacteria and even what color it can be, but PFAS Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are persistent organic contaminants that are pervasive in our lives and end up in water supplies in the US. They are mobile and make their way to drinking water resources, our rivers and lakes.
This stuff is everywhere. You feel them every time you handle a receipt from a cash purchase, and those grease-resistant papers, fast food containers/wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, and candy wrappers are coated with PFAS.
The complex chemistry used in producing these compounds makes detecting them difficult, and parceling out this and that to see what health impacts they are producing in us is still a developing story. But they are persistent and they will be with us and in us. What Waterkeepers are going to provide is information to our watersheds that, "we too are at risk" the PFAS are here, or wouldn't it be a gift to find they are not here?
This area, our people have enough KNOWN contaminants to deal with, we don't need more. What can you do to reduce your exposures in one of the largest superfund sites in the country?
Make sure you have had your yard tested now by DEQ for lead, easy with a phone call to 800-522-0206. Get your children 6 years old and younger tested for lead poisoning. Wet dust inside your home. Give the pregnant women a break and vacuum for them. Check the fish consumption guides for the number of local fish you can eat a month due to lead and mercury. Gather blackberries along somebody else's creek not our Tar Creek. Keep your kids at the splash pad and the big pool at Riverview and out of Tar Creek for yet another summer.
Lots of don'ts. Do honor water as life, use it to keep you cool and hydrated. Find the shade and share what you can.
Respectfully submitted ~ Rebecca Jim