Algae threat blooms

Beaches close, ‘high alerts’ around area

Elodie Reed

By Elodie Reed

Staff Writer

The Facts

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ST. ALBANS — Blue-green algae blooms are threatening local waters.

According to the Vermont Department of Health, St. Albans Bay was on high alert for blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, Tuesday. Turquoise-colored, smelly water crashed onto the St. Albans Bay park beach yesterday, which was lined by signs warning swimmers not to enter the water. The algae pose health hazards for humans and animals that might ingest it.

At Lake Carmi in Franklin, water sampling volunteer Diane Larose reported a bloom in progress and said the state health department had been contacted and it was anticipated the town would take precautionary measures.

Larry Myott, of the campers’ association on Lake Carmi, said a bloom had been cited near the Dewing Road shoreline and algae was present on all shores as of early Tuesday evening.

Myott said a blue-green algae bloom also appeared likely at the town’s North Beach on Route 120, adding, “The color and “pea soup” was certainly indicative along with the terrible odor.”

The Franklin town health officer, said Myott, had ordered notices posted to ban swimming. Myott added, The BGA (blue-algae bloom) may last a few hours, a few days, or like last season, several months.”

He also issued a plea that pets not be permitted to enter the water. Myott said, “Last week a dog on the Georgia Shore went swimming in the algal bloom and was dead two days later. We do not know the cause of the death.”

The status of water quality on the Georgia Shore of Lake Champlain was posted online as a “high alert” for possible toxic algae blooms Tuesday. No signs warning swimmers were up at the beach yesterday morning.

Though the Dept. of Health’s “blue-green algae tracker” had no information about Missisquoi Bay Tuesday, cyanobacteria were present in Highgate Springs along Shipyard Road. No boats or people were to be seen at lunchtime yesterday.

Recent 90-degree temperatures, high humidity and stagnant air are the perfect combination for potentially toxic cyanobacteria.

The blooms come on the heels of last Friday’s announcement by the State of Vermont and the Environmental Protection Agency of the final draft cleanup plan for Lake Champlain and its phosphorous TMDL (total maximum daily load) document.

Phosphorous, which causes the blooms, derives from agricultural practices, wastewater treatment facilities and soils, and it enters the lake mostly through stormwater runoff.

Cyanobacteria blooms can move into and out of areas quickly with wind and waves. To find out whether a swimming area is safe to recreate in, search online for “Vermont Blue Green Algae Tracker.”

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Messenger staffer Gary Rutkowski contributed to this report.


  • fairnessreaper

    I remember as a child swimming in a crystal clear lake…. Thanks a lot farmers and Montpelier…