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Possible cyanobacteria algae seen at Easthampton pond

The Easthampton health department has identified a possible cyanobacteria algae bloom in Rubber Thread Pond.
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 11:26 AM EDT|Updated: May. 23, 2022 at 10:17 PM EDT
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EASTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The Easthampton health department has identified a possible cyanobacteria algae bloom in Rubber Thread Pond.

According to officials, photos were sent to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s toxicology program for confirmation.

After review, it was confirmed that the algae levels may exceed guidelines for recreational bodies of water in the state.

As a result, residents are being asked to avoid swimming, fishing, boating, or coming in contact with the water until further notice.

Algae blooms can be caused by warm weather, sunlight, excess nutrients in the water, such as fertilizer and human/animal waste, or failing septic systems.

Easthampton’s Director of Health spoke with us Monday to provide further information.

“Any time we see that really visible green or brown scum matte layer on top of water, we want to avoid it,” said Health Director Bri Eichstaedt. “And it’s important to know we’re not always going to be able to respond and get that advisory out ASAP, especially if it happens on a weekend, so we really want people to just avoid water if they see that really visible matte on top of the water.”

This is not the first time algae has bloomed on the pond, according to one resident, who said she saw it last year, too.

“I’ve seen it last year,” said Leslie Bardsley, “and I notice a lot of people fish here, and I hope they aren’t keeping the fish because I know there’s an algae bloom almost constantly, so I’m glad they put the sign up today.”

Health concerns from harmful algae blooms vary depending on the type of exposure and the amounts.

Contact can cause skin and eye irritation, while ingesting small amounts can cause gastrointestinal symptoms. Ingesting large amounts may cause liver or neurological damage.

A follow-up sampling will be done once the bloom is no longer evident.