Blue-green algae puts a damper on Texoma tourism

By: Kristen Shanahan Email
By: Kristen Shanahan Email

DURANT, OK -- The initial water contact ban and current water advisory made it a rough year for lake marinas and other businesses. One general manager told us he saw a 20 percent decrease in revenue from the year before. Area cities that depend on the lake are hoping that as water levels go up so will business.

Janet Reed with Durant's chamber of commerce says it has been a struggle for some local businesses to stay afloat after this year's water contact ban and advisory due to the blue-green algae.

"The businesses on the shoreline have taken a hit," Reed said.

Reed says even though the lake is open for fishing and boating, tourists are still hesitant to spend time on the water. Tourism chair Cindy Kirkpatrick explains tourism is vital to communities like Durant because one tourist dollar is passed around city businesses 14 times.

"Everybody needs the tourist dollars. We all need them here. The lake is very important. It's been a recreational lake since it was built," Kirkpatrick said.

Reed says flooding in 2007 and the drought last year have threatened to sink area business, but experts with the army corps of engineers say recent rains could help decrease the algae count.

"Hopefully with the blue-green algae being out of the way, and the drought behind us we can see a future glimpse of what we hope to see Lake Texoma be in the future," Reed said.

Reed says she wants to get the word out that it is okay to go on the lake as long as boaters and fishers use caution.

Kirkpatrick says she encourages community members not only to spread the word, but to take some time out to enjoy Lake Texoma's attractions and support local businesses.

"Come out and fish. Come and do a walk. Come out and spend the night. Come bring your camping gear. Do something different for a change," Kirkpatrick said.

Area leaders say they are working on creating an attraction on the north side of the lake to attract more visitors to the lake and surrounding communities.

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