PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The Rhode Island Departments of Health and Environmental Management are warning everyone to stay away from several local bodies of water due to the presence of potentially toxic algae blooms.
Health advisories have been issued for the following eight bodies of water:
- Almy Pond in Newport
- Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield
- Mashapaug Pond in Providence
- Upper J.L. Curran Reservoir in Cranston
- Spectacle Pond in Cranston
- Blackamore Pond in Cranston
- Lower and Upper Melville Ponds in Portsmouth
DEM’s Supervising Environmental Scientist Jane Sawyers tells 12 News the season’s first health advisory this year was issued for Almy Pond in June, which marks the fifth consecutive year that blue-green algae blooms have been present there.
Blue-green algae, according to Sawyer, thrives off of stagnant, warm water filled with plenty of nutrients.
She said above-average rainfall, paired with humidity, is creating a perfect storm for algae blooms.
“The rainfall probably helped some of these ones along, especially if they needed the extra boost of food,” she said.
Sawyer said the algae grows from nutrients found in lawn fertilizer and animal waste, which were likely washed into the bodies of water by the rain.
She also said it’s typical for blue-green algae blooms to appear more frequently in the summer months.
“Usually it starts about now and then they can appear most often in August and September,” Sawyer explained.
Sawyer said the blooms can produce toxins that are harmful to both humans and animals.
Irritation of the skin, nose, eyes and throat can occur if a person comes into contact with the water, but Sawyer said it’s even worse if the water is ingested.
“The best course of action is to stay out, especially pets and small children, because they are more likely to ingest the water, just with how they interact with the water and their body sizes as well,” Sawyer said.
So how can you tell if a body of water is full of blue-green algae blooms? Sawyer said it’s relatively easy.
“It looks like pea soup,” she explained. “It’s murky, it’s cloudy, it’s got this greenish tinge. It can blow across a water body and clump up look like piled up cottage cheese in some instances.”
Sawyer said her team regularly surveys 10 ponds known for blue-green algae blooms, including Almy Pond, biweekly. But she said they also respond to reports sent in directly from concerned residents.
To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact the DEM’s Office of Water Resources at (401) 222-4700 or email a photograph to DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.