by Shri Vani Sripada (

The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection (KY DEP) develops fact sheets about Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) that discuss causes and effects and strategies for managing and treating of HABs. Monitoring of Kentucky lakes by USACE and KDOW in 2013 and 2014, confirmed the presence of algal blooms some of which were present at levels exceeding the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended safety thresholds and were considered potentially harmful. As the occurrence of HABs become more prevalent, KY DEP has developed fact sheets that provide background on HABs and the problems and effects associated with HABs including recreational concerns, water treatment challenges and public health impacts.

An algal bloom is a rapid increase or accumulation in the population of algae in an aquatic system. Typically only one or a small number of phytoplankton species are involved and some blooms may be recognized by discoloration of the water resulting from the high density of pigmented cells. HAB is an algal bloom that causes negative impacts to other organisms via production of natural toxins, mechanical damage to other organisms, or by other means. Although HABs are commonly called as blue-green algae blooms, they actually consist of cyanobacteria. In addition to producing toxins, cyanobacteria can pose other treatment challenges for public water systems including taste and odor issues or clogged filters.