US Army Corps of Engineers
Huntington District Website

Update on Water Conditions at Sutton Lake

Published June 27, 2013

   HUNTINGTON, W.VA. - The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers is cautioning swimmers and boaters at Sutton Lake in Sutton, W.Va., about possible contact with a bloom of blue-green algae. The bloom is capable of producing toxins that can be harmful to small children and animals.


            Swimming at the South Abutment Beach is not permitted but the beach and its facilities are open to the public. Caution posters have been posted at all access points to the lake. Children are most at risk to the adverse effects of toxins which can range from rashes and hay-fever-like symptoms to vomiting, diarrhea and respiratory distress.


            The Corps plans to increase the outflow at Sutton Dam to 1000 cubic feet per second over a four-hour period late Friday morning to determine if releases can reduce the growth of the blue-green algae in the lake. For those living downstream from the dam, that release is within normal flow levels. The volume of the release will dilute any toxin concentrations to levels that will not cause adverse health effects to downstream areas.   


            Toxins may or may not be present in the location of the blooms.Blooms can be moved by wind and waves leaving toxins behind, the appearance of "clean" water does not mean that toxins are not present and can give a false sense of security.


            Blooms have not been reported at the Bee Run Beach but are present upstream and downstream of the beach.Patrons can continue to use this beach although caution signs have been posted.This signage is designed to inform thepublic of the potential risk.


            Park Rangers at Sutton Lake are working with the local health department and the Department of Natural Resources to check water quality at the lake and keep boaters and swimmers informed of the possible risks. They will continue boat patrols and water quality monitoring.


            The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Quality Team will continue collecting additional samples for cell counts.Once cell counts decrease below 100,000 cells per milliliter caution signs will be changed to advisory signs.Once cell counts decrease below 20,000 cells per milliliter for two consecutive weeks all signs will be removed. The cell counts will be posted on the Huntington District web site: .


            Avoid contact with any questionable waters or floating scum that may have an odd green/white or sometimes blue or brown color or unusual odor. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and avoid contact.Do not let pets drink from any waters posted with an advisory.If an unknown illness occurs after water contact seek medical attention.Please report possible algal bloom sighting or fish kills to the local U. S. Army Corps of Engineers office.


            Blue-green algae is present in all lakes, but during certain conditions can become concentrated at levels which can cause adverse health effects to people and pets. Most blooms produce skin toxins which may cause rash, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and flu-like symptoms. Some blooms produce nerve and liver toxins, which are extremely dangerous. Children, pets and individuals susceptible to illness or rash are most likely to be affected.


            Presently, no other lake in the Huntington District has shown signs of a hazardous bloom of blue-green algae.


           For more information, call Public Affairs at 304-399-5353 or 304-360-5757.


Public Affairs

Release no. PA13-34