Update on algae

At the Stow Board of Health meeting last night, there was extensive discussion about the algae situation that developed in the past few weeks and how it was handled. The testing for algae and toxins requires a specialized laboratory and the State requires that two tests spaced a week apart both show cyanobacteria cell count and toxin levels below required thresholds before closure of a recreational water body can be lifted and be considered safe. The one week time interval for a second test is required to be sure that dying algae do not release more toxins than may have been present in the first sample.

Results of the first test have been received and they are negative: very low toxin and acceptable cell count levels. The next sample is to be taken the end of this week and results are expected the middle of next week. The second test result must also be negative before the lake can be considered safe according to State protocol.

A number of people have asked about further information on algae, cyanobacteria and what precautions should be taken. The State provides quite a bit of info:

https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2016/08/ww/algae-fresh-water-english.pdf
https://www.mass.gov/service-details/identifying-cyanobacterial-blooms-and-scums-photographs-of-blooms-and-scums
https://www.mass.gov/info-details/guidelines-for-cyanobacteria-in-freshwater-recreational-water-bodies
https://www.mass.gov/guides/cyanobacterial-harmful-algal-blooms-cyanohabs-water
https://www.mass.gov/info-details/microcystis-and-anabaena-algae-blooms
https://www.mass.gov/service-details/harmful-algae-blooms-and-pet-health

The Lake Boon Commission and Lake Boon Association have agreed to assist the Board of Health to improve responsiveness to this kind of situation in the future.

In the meantime, we should all observe the ways to reduce algae blooms in the first place:

  • Properly maintain septic systems
  • Use phosphate-free dishwasher detergent
  • Apply fertilizer correctly: only away from the lake, without phosphate. Remember, GREEN LAWNS = GREEN LAKES!
  • Pick up pets’ waste
  • Do not feed ducks or geese
  • Plant or maintain native vegetation around the water’s edge

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