Erroneous report cites blue-green algae cell count too high

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LAKE TEXOMA -- An erroneous report by a contracted laboratory found blue-green algae cell counts in the millions.

But after the Grayson County Health Department asked them to review the data, they found the cell-counts were actually only in the hundred-thousands.

Amanda Ortez, with the Grayson County Health Department, said they received the shocking news Wednesday.

"Our lab reported the cell counts a thousand times too high," she said.
"We had asked our contracted laboratory to go back because it was so unusually high for this time of the year."

The laboratory also works with The Army Corps of Engineers - who released the data to the public as soon as they got it.

"Later that same day, the afternoon of the 27th of June, we received the information that it had been erroneously reported. And the Tulsa district immediately retracted the information that we had put out," said Paul Balkenbush with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Balkenbush said the discrepancy was in the unit of measurement. The lab always reports in units per milliliter.

"And their data was originally reported back to us in cells per liter. And that makes the information that we received back from them look much higher in densities than they actually were," he said.

Ortez said she wants to make sure lake-goers know the waters are still safe.

"What we're most concerned about are the toxins. And again, they were not detected in those Lake Texoma samples," she said.

Last month Grayson County health officials issued a new warning system with a green, yellow and red scale - like a traffic light.

The levels are still green, Ortez said.

"Green means go. So we want individuals to go to the Lake," she said.

And while officials say the lake is safe algae-wise, they still remind visitors to keep in mind the usual safety precautions, like boating and water hazards.

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