Don't swim in Harsha Lake at East Fork State Park — seriously

WCPo lake algae.png
Posted at 5:50 PM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 20:29:16-04

Families swam in the lake at East Fork State Park Monday afternoon despite a health department warning that the water could make them sick or cause rashes from contact with their skin.

“Read the signs,” said Edith Campbell, who stopped by on Monday but didn’t swim. “There’s a big sign there — a red sign — that tells you what’s in the water.”

The danger comes from algae blooming in the water and releasing toxins in the process.

These algal blooms are common in Ohio waterways during the summer and early fall, according to Clermont County health commissioner Julianne Nesbit. It’s hard to predict when they’ll appear, but when they do, her advice is always the same.

“We would advise minimizing contact,” she said. “(The water) can cause gastrointestinal and nervous system issues being ingested, but also from skin contact. People may develop rashes.”

She’s also not sure when the blooming algae will go away.

In the meantime, Nesbit said, swimmers at East Fork should monitor themselves for symptoms of exposure, which typically manifest within 48 hours.

Visitors should continue to avoid the water.