Private Water Bodies

Seek immediate medical attention


As defined in the KDHE Agency Response Plan:

"a private water body is any freshwater reservoir or pond that is both located on and completely bordered by land under common private ownership, or is not accessible to the general public (i.e., access by the general public is controlled or restricted in some manner."

Farm pond

If you are the owner of a private water body as defined above, and you are concerned that there may be a HAB present, then there is a simple test you can perform. It is called the "Jar Test." If you suspect or confirm that you have blue-green algae in your pond, and you have had livestock or pets exhibit HAB poisoning, then call your veterinarian immediately.

To perform the "Jar Test", download the information and follow the directions as written in the material. The Jar Test will only tell you if you have blue-green algae in the water body in question. It will not tell you what kind it is or if toxins are present. But it is a good indicator as to whether blue-green algae are present and if precautions should be taken to prevent poisoning from occurring if the water body is being used for livestock watering or recreational activities.

Initial Sample
Initial Smaple Title
Positive Sample
Positive Smaple Title
Negative Sample
Negative Smaple Title


The resource for animal diagnostic information is the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Water samples for blue-green algae identification can be submitted there to help confirm animal illnesses or deaths are due to a HAB. When collecting a water sample, the laboratory recommends using gloves to prevent skin contact. Collect about 20 fluid ounces (500 ml) in a clean, leak-proof container, and include any visible scum. Keep the sample refrigerated (not frozen). Samples should be shipped to the laboratory in an insulated box with a cold pack. For more information, please contact KSVDL Client Care at 866-512-5650.

Kansas State


What Can I do about Harmful Algal Blooms in my Pond?

Excessive nutrients entering your private pond can encourage blue-green algal blooms. Runoff that includes lawn fertilizers and livestock waste are two main sources of nitrogen and phosphorous that algae use to reproduce rapidly thus causing a "bloom." You could treat your pond with chemicals as a reactive measure to improve the look of your pond but this may cause more harm in the future. The toxins released from blue-green algae dying will remain within the water column even if the pond looks better.


There are several proactive measures that may help uptake excessive nutrients in the pond. One measure is to increase the macrophyte diversity in the pond. Some of the more common submerged plants are coontail, pottamogeton, water naiad, lotus and water lilies. Cattails are another option although they can grow rapidly and may soon cover the shoreline necessitating frequent maintenance. Other perennial plants such as marsh (swamp) milkweed, blue-flag iris, pickerelweed, swamp hibiscus, Justicia americana (water-willow) and Sagittaria are good alternatives for shoreline plantings that would increase the uptake of nutrients in the water and provide a buffer to help reduce runoff from entering the pond after heavy rains.



There are plants that are not appropriate for water bodies. Water hyacinths, although nice to look at, will soon completely cover a pond or lake and are not recommended for this reason. Hydrilla and Eurasian milfoil are highly invasive plants which are illegal within the State of Kansas. Curly pondweed can also become highly invasive and can require a considerable amount of maintenance to control growth.



If the primary purpose of the pond is to enjoy the beauty of a water feature rather than for livestock watering, a floating garden may be an option. Floating gardens, wetland, or islands (the names are all interchangeable), are planted floating platforms that have roots dangling into the water column. These roots uptake the excess nutrients, allowing the plants above the surface to grow and use the nutrients that otherwise the algae would use. You may even grow some hydroponic vegetables on the islands by securing them alongside a dock or structure with enough depth to allow the island to float. Along with the uptake of nutrients that these floating gardens provide, the roots serve as habitat for many beneficial organisms that also improve water quality. There are several websites that provide information about floating gardens and companies that specialize in their construction or how to construct one yourself. For more information about floating gardens or wetlands, see KDHE's presentation " Floating Wetlands – Old and New."

Swamp Hibiscus
Swamp Hibiscus


Pottamogeton crispus
Pottamogeton crispus
(Curly pondweed)

Floating Garden

Floating Wetland

Listed below are websites with information on appropriate plants that help control excessive nutrients within a pond thus perhaps preventing or reducing blooms over time. |