Algae bloom closes popular Nashawannuck Pond in Easthampton for at least a week

  • An algae bloom floats on the surface of Nashawannuck Pond in Easthampton on Friday STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Algae floats on the surface of Nashawannuck Pond in Easthampton, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Algae floats on the surface of Nashawannuck Pond in Easthampton, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Algae floats on the surface of Nashawannuck Pond in Easthampton, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Algae floats on the surface of Nashawannuck Pond in Easthampton, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

For the Gazette
Published: 8/17/2019 2:14:18 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Nashawannuck Pond is temporarily unsafe for people and pets because of an algae bloom, city officials warn.

The Easthampton Health Department released an advisory late Thursday afternoon warning that cyanobacteria, or algae, cells had been found in the popular pond at levels that may exceed Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines for recreational bodies of water. The advisory warns people to avoid contact with the water until the bloom clears. The pond will be closed at least until Thursday, officials said.

“Warm weather and excess nutrients in the water, which can be caused by leaking septic systems and runoff from storms, can cause algae blooms,” Bri Eichstaedt, Easthampton’s health agent, said Friday.

Eichstaedt said a member of the Nashawanuck Pond Committee brought the algae bloom to the city’s attention. Eichstaedt took photos of the pond and sent them to a state health official, who said in an email to Eichstaedt that the photos indicate the presence of cyanobacteria cells at levels that may exceed state guidelines.

According to the email, the DPH will collect a sample of the pond if the algae clears by next Thursday. If two samples taken a week apart show that cyanobacteria cell levels have gone below acceptable levels. Once that happens, the advisory will be lifted, and warning signs placed around the pond’s exterior will be removed.

In New England, algae blooms form most often in the summer and fall and make the water look murky. When they produce toxins that can harm people and animals, they’re called harmful algae blooms, and contact with them can irritate the skin and eyes, produce asthma-like symptoms and cause liver and brain damage and, in some cases, death, according to information distributed by the state DPH. from B

These toxins are most dangerous to children and small pets.

“If someone comes into contact with it, they should wash off immediately,” Eichstaedt said. “If they somehow ingest it, I’d recommend calling your primary care physician.”

Eichstaedt said that this is the first algae advisory that she’s seen in her five years in public health.

“I think more people are paying attention to it now, especially after that dog in North Carolina died,” Eichstaedt said, referencing a viral Facebook post from a Wilmington, North Carolina resident whose dogs died after coming into contact with cyanobacteria.

“I checked today, and it actually looks like it’s clearing up,” she said. “But it can fluctuate a lot.”




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