DEP Reveals Scope Of Algae’s Spread in River
Health advisories remain in effect
5 September 2015
By Linda Comins, Staff Writer
WHEELING - The West Virginia Department of Environmental
Protection has released a series of aerial photographs showing
blue-green algae blooms on the Ohio River.
The department's aerial assessment of the river, conducted this
week, extended from the Huntington area north to the mouth of
Buffalo Creek at Wellsburg.
John Wirts, assistant director of WVDEP's Division of Water and
Waste Management, said the presence of a blue-green algae bloom
does not equate to the presence of toxins.
Wirts, who is assigned to the division's Watershed Assessment
Branch, said he Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission and
state health departments will be posting any results of new toxins
analysis as soon as they are available.
Health advisories in the region remain in place and close
monitoring continues of area water supplies as blue-green algae
blooms are still visible in the Ohio River and some tributaries.
Howard Gamble, administrator of the Wheeling-Ohio County Health
Department, said health department officials are monitoring the
river, along with their partners at the city of Wheeling, West
Virginia Bureau of Public Health and ORSANCO.
Both the Wheeling-Ohio County and Marshall County health
departments have issued health advisories for individuals using
the Ohio River. Residents are advised to use caution when
swimming, boating, fishing or doing other recreational water
activities in the river. Special cautionary steps are in place for
participants in the Wheeling Vintage Raceboat Regatta this
"Public drinking water supplied from the Wheeling Water
Department, including Ohio County Public Service District, will
continue to be closely monitored," Gamble said. "Public drinking
water supplied by the Wheeling Water Department continues to be
safe to drink."
Russell Jebbia, Wheeling public works director, and Dave
Nickerson, city water division superintendent, could not be
reached for comment Friday on the protective measures being taken
currently or on the long-term impact of the blue-green algae