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k1049 BC-KS-Algae-Lake 1stLd-Writethru 07-13 0340

Published on -7/13/2009, 11:49 AM

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Fish targeted in fight to clear Kan. lake of algae

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MARION, Kan. (AP) -- Wildlife officials are trying to rid a central Kansas lake of two fish species they say could be to blame for helping cause algae blooms that have tainted the water supplies of two nearby towns.

Commercial fishermen have been granted permission to snare carp and buffalo fish Marion Lake. The lake has experienced harmful blooms of blue-green algae since 2003, said Neal Whitaker, a park ranger with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Officials say the carp, which were brought to the state more than 100 years ago, out-compete other fish species for food and root around in the shallows. The rooting releases large amounts of nutrients from the lake bottom that feed the algae and could possibly keep aquatic plants from growing that are believed to help keep the algae in check.

Officials hope removing buffalo fish will allow the plankton population to grow. Plankton eat the algae.

The first bloom at the lake in 2003 became so bad the nearby towns of Marion and Hillsboro had to temporarily suspend drawing their drinking water from the lake, according to The Wichita Eagle.

The blooms, which look like green paint has been poured on the water's surface and often smell nasty, can cause rashes and illnesses if ingested by humans and can be fatal to animals. Several dog deaths have been blamed on drinking contaminated water from Marion.

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Information from: The Wichita Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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