PROVIDENCE — Just before Christmas, the Department of Environmental Management announced it lifted recreational warnings for 11 ponds, lakes and reservoirs declared toxic due to the presence of cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae.
Little Pond in Warwick, which the DEM warned the public away from in September due to the dangers posed by the growths, was among those cleared Dec. 24.
What is blue-green algae (cyanobacteria)?
Blue-green algae causes fresh water to look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. Blue-green algae can produce toxins, including microcystins, harmful to humans and animals. The growths and toxins may be present even when not clearly visible, and also during winter months, the DEM warns. All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking in such waters should be avoided. People should not drink water or eat fish from these waters.
Contact with water containing cyanobacteria causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with water containing the cyanobacteria and experience these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.
Recreational restrictions were lifted for:
- Paradise Pond in Middletown,
- Sisson Pond in Portsmouth,
- Slack Reservoir in Smithfield-Johnston,
- Carbuncle Pond in Coventry,
- Almy Pond in Newport,
- Elm Lake in Providence,
- JL Curran Resevoir in Cranston,
- Mashapaug Pond in Providence,
- Pleasure Lake in Providence,
- Roosevelt Lake in Providence
- Melville Pond in Portsmouth.
“These improvements were expected due to seasonal cooling and declining daylight, and they signal a great reduction in risk. However, there is no guarantee that toxins are absent, or that a warm spell might not trigger a bloom during the winter or spring,” the DEM stated in its announcement.
If you or pets contact blue-green algae
People who come into contact with potentially affected waters should rinse their skin and wash their clothes with clean water as soon as possible. People observing pets exhibiting adverse health symptoms after contact with potentially affected waters should contact their veterinarians. Pets who encounter potentially affected waters should not be allowed to lick water off their fur and should be rinsed with clean water as soon as possible.
To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM’s Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.