Algal Bloom Turns Long Pond Green
By: Christopher Kazarian
An algal bloom has been discovered in Long Pond, less than two months after E. coli was discovered in the same water body.
“This has never occurred there before,” Water Superintendent William R. Chapman said.
Today a crew from Lycott Environmental Inc. of Southbridge was to go to Long Pond, which supplies the majority of the town’s drinking water to residents, to treat the bloom with 1,000 pounds of liquid copper sulfite. The cost for the one day of work, Mr. Chapman said, is $3,550.
“We are optimistic this is a one-and-done type of scenario although we won’t know until a few days after,” he said.
The discovery of the algal bloom last week required the state to be notified, Mr. Chapman said. Subsequent testing of the water supply, he said, had to be done and the results had to come back clean, which they did last Friday. He said the algal bloom does not pose a hazard to residents’ health.
At the same time, he said, it is a concern and he suspected “this could get worse before it gets better.”
As to why the algal bloom occurred, he attributed it to the high temperatures, noting that “ocean temperatures are 80 degrees right now, which is ridiculous. Long Pond is a large body of water with a couple of springs in it which will promote algae.”
In addition, he said, the conditions at Long Pond this summer have been ripe for an event like this, with higher water elevations exposing the water to different organisms than it normally is.
He said the pond has experienced high turbidity levels over the past two weeks due to rain storms, pond turnover and high winds. He said the visual clues, a green tinge indicative of an algal bloom, was the first sign that something was wrong.
This is now the second incident since June in which a problem has been found with the water supply.
In the first instance both E. coli and higher than acceptable levels of total coliform were discovered although the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection was not notified until five days after. The state should have been notified within 24 hours.
Miscommunication between Mr. Chapman and chief water operator David A. Dietlin was cited as the reason why the state was not notified immediately. The two men were suspended for two weeks without pay in July for not following that protocol.
While a large focus of that first incident—it resulted in a week-long boil water order notice placed on the town—was on the delay in notifying both the state and residents, it also spoke to a larger concern about the potential health hazards inherent in Long Pond, which is an unfiltered water system.
Since the discovery of E. coli, both Mr. Chapman and his supervisor, Raymond A. Jack, the director of the Department of Public Works, have stressed the need to better protect Long Pond by installing a filtration system on it.
The algal bloom only served to strengthen that position for Mr. Chapman. “This is definitely in line with why a filtration system is needed,” he said. “If we had that it would be a non-issue.”
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