More Bad Water News for Altus: First Drought, Now Dead Fish

  • Joe Wertz

The extreme drought blanketing Southwestern Oklahoma has taxed water resources in Altus and plagued farmers.

Now, a toxic golden algae bloom at Lugert-Altus Lake has left it “essentially dead as a fishery,” The Oklahoman’s Ed Godfrey reports. Wildlife officials aren’t sure how the algae spreads, but the drought improves growth conditions:

It flourishes in cool water conditions where there is less healthy green algae and in lakes with higher salt content. The lack of rain also can concentrate nutrients in the water that increase the odds for toxic blooms, but there is no way to predict when they will happen.

About 350,000 fish have died from the the fish-kill, which started in December and continued through February, the paper reports. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation surveyed the lake in April and couldn’t find any fish.

From The Oklahoman:

Basically, all lakes west of I-35 are vulnerable to golden algae. A handful of lakes east of I-35 – including Hefner, Sooner, Konawa, Keystone and Kerr – also have been identified as potentially vulnerable because of their higher salt content.

Lakes filled with dead fish aren’t great sources of drinking water, but officials at the Department of Environmental Quality say the golden algae bloom shouldn’t affect Altus’ public water supply, according to a report from the Wildlife Department:

Altus-Lugert Lake is one source of drinking water for the City of Altus, Oklahoma. At the current time, Altus is NOT using its intake structure located in this lake.