Dear Lake Friend,
Happy August! July was a hot, steamy month with blooms popping up in various places around the lake. (July was officially the hottest for Burlington VT since the National Weather Service began keeping records in 1892.) The high heat and sultry weather has continued into August, a time of year when cyanobacteria blooms are more common. Please enjoy the water but keep a careful watch for cyanobacteria.
As of late afternoon Friday (8/3/18) we received 135 reports from Lake Champlain and inland lakes. While most monitors reported good conditions, blooms closed beaches in Burlington and at Sand Bar State Park. Niquette Bay State Park has both low and high alert conditions at its various shoreline locations and high alert conditions persist in the Philipsburg Quebec area of Missisquoi Bay. The forecast calls for some rain today and tomorrow and then a return to very high temperatures on Sunday and through the beginning of next week. Reports will continue to come in today and over the weekend so check the cyanobacteria data tracker for the latest updates and contact local beach officials for the status of any beach you’re venturing to.
You’ll find further details of this week’s reports below along with ways to recognize and report on cyanobacteria, pictures of some conditions observed this week and photos of how cyanobacteria often first shows up in the water.
Thanks for caring about water,
Lori Fisher, LCC Executive Director
Lake Champlain Committee
WEEK OF JULY 29 CYANOBACTERIA MONITORING RESULTS
The information below represents the results from the latest reporting through late afternoon Friday August 3, 2018. Blooms can pop up anywhere so check the cyanobacteria data tracker but be mindful of changing conditions. You’ll find lots of links and resources below to help you identify cyanobacteria. Please learn how to recognize and report it so you can recreate safely.
Lake Champlain Monitoring Sites – 116 reports received from around the lake this week. While many monitors observed good conditions there were a scattering of bloom reports throughout the week. You’ll find further details in the section write-ups below.
Missisquoi Bay – 9 reports received. While good conditions were reported at several bay locations this week, high alert conditions showed up again in Philipsburg, Quebec. Anyone recreating in this area should watch for, report and avoid cyanobacteria.
St. Albans Bay – 9 reports received indicating generally safe conditions. While most reports were of good conditions, Black Bridge site at the northern end of the bay had a bloom late last week. Conditions were clear on August 1. While this area is considered generally safe as of our last reports, blooms have shown up in the bay off and on during the season so anyone recreating in this area should watch for, report and avoid cyanobacteria.
Inland Sea – 15 reports indicating good conditions from all sites with the exception of Sand Bar State Park. The park was closed due to a large amount of filamentous green algae in the swimming area that appeared similar enough to Scytonema cyanobacteria. The water sample indicated that most of the material was dead or dying filamentous green algae (which doesn’t produce cyanotoxins) but confirmed there was Scytonema and another as yet unidentified cyanobacteria tangled amongst or growing on the green algae. As a result, the beach will remain closed until this material is no longer onshore. Anyone recreating in this area should watch for, report and avoid cyanobacteria.
Malletts Bay – 12 reports received indicating good conditions for most locations and low and high alert blooms at Niquette Bay State Park in Colchester on Outer Malletts Bay. Anyone recreating in this area should watch for, report and avoid cyanobacteria.
Main Lake North – 9 reports indicating good conditions. Based on criteria established by the VDH, this area is considered generally safe and free of cyanobacteria blooms as of the time of the last reports.
Main Lake Central – 42 reports received indicating mixed conditions. Burlington area beaches experienced alert level conditions this week. Texaco Beach, North Beach and Leddy Beach were all closed on July 31 and reopened on August 1. North Beach was closed again on August 3 and Providence Island and the Rock Point area also experienced alert conditions during the week. Anyone recreating in this area should watch for, report and avoid cyanobacteria.
Main Lake South – 18 reports indicating good conditions. Based on criteria established by the VDH, this area is considered generally safe as of the time of the last reports.
South Lake – 2 reports indicating good conditions. Based on criteria established by the VDH, this area is considered generally safe and free of cyanobacteria blooms as of the time of the last reports.
Other VT Lakes
Baker Pond – No reports again this week. Scytonema (a benthic cyanobacteria) was reported on the pond at the beginning of last month but there have been no status updates since then. Anyone on the pond or the shoreline should watch for, avoid and report cyanobacteria.
Caspian Lake – 1 report received indicating good conditions. No bloom reports, based on the VDH criteria, this area is considered generally safe as of the time of the last report.
Coles Pond - 2 reports received indicating good conditions. No bloom reports, based on the VDH criteria, this area is considered generally safe as of the time of the last report.
Fairfield Pond – No reports received for four weeks running. Be mindful of potential change in conditions since this area has experienced blooms in the past.
Lake Carmi – 5 reports received indicating mixed conditions. Low alert conditions were observed at the North Beach area of the lake on July 31. Anyone recreating on the lake should be mindful of changing conditions and watch for, report and avoid cyanobacteria blooms.
Lake Iroquois – 2 reports received indicating good conditions. No bloom reports, based on the VDH criteria, this area is considered generally safe as of the time of the last report.
Lake Memphremagog – 5 reports received indicating good conditions at most locations. The Province Island area did experience low alert conditions on July 31. Anyone recreating in this area should be mindful of changing conditions and watch for, report and avoid cyanobacteria blooms.
Lake Morey – No reports received for four weeks running. Be mindful of potential change in conditions since this area has experienced blooms in the past.
Lake St. Catherine – No reports received for the past four weeks. Be mindful of potential change in conditions since this area has experienced blooms in the past.
Lake Willoughby – No reports received this week. Anyone recreating in this area should be mindful of changing conditions and watch for, report and avoid cyanobacteria blooms.
North Hartland Lake – 1 report received indicating good conditions. No bloom reports, based on the VDH criteria, this area is considered generally safe as of the time of the last report.
Shelburne Pond – 1 report received indicating good conditions. Based on the VDH criteria, this area is considered generally safe as of August 2 but Shelburne Pond is prone to blooms so please be mindful of changing conditions and watch for, avoid and report any cyanobacteria.
Stoughton Pond – 1 report received indicating good conditions. No bloom reports, based on the VDH criteria, this area is considered generally safe as of the time of the last report.
Ticklenaked Pond – No reports received this week. Be mindful of potential change in conditions.
Townshend Lake – 1 report received indicating good conditions. No bloom reports, based on the VDH criteria, this area is considered generally safe as of the time of the last report.
New York Inland Lakes
Blooms have been confirmed at several locations around the state. Check with beach authorities for current conditions. For more information and to sign up for weekly notifications of harmful algal blooms in New York, visit the New York Harmful Algae Blooms Notification Page. The site is generally updated at least weekly. Click here to see New York’s photo gallery of pictures of blooms along with photos of non-harmful green algae.
New York uses the Lake Champlain Cyanobacteria Tracker Map housed on the VT Dept. of Health (VDH) website for reporting bloom conditions on Lake Champlain. Information for all other New York waterbodies can be found at the link above on the New York Harmful Algae Blooms Notification Page. Beginning this week, this site will also include cyanobacteria blooms for the New York portion of Lake Champlain.
Quebec also maintains a reporting page for cyanobacteria blooms. It includes links to lakes that are closed and other resources. Click here for a downloadable PDF guide in French about cyanobacteria from the Quebec Environmental Ministry.
There is no central reporting location for beach closure information on Lake Champlain. Always check with local beach management regarding conditions and remember that beaches may be closed for reasons other than cyanobacteria blooms.
Vermont Drinking Water Facilities Report
For the fourth summer in a row, the VT Dept. of Health and VT Dept. of Env. Conservation are collaborating to conduct cyanotoxin analysis of raw and finished water for the 22 Lake Champlain-sourced water systems. The 12 weeks of testing is funded by the Lake Champlain Basin Program. The tests began in July and will continue through September. Click here to view results from this week's testing at Vermont Drinking Water Facilities and for a compilation of results from recent weeks and past years.
CHECK OUT THE CYANOBACTERIA DATA TRACKER MAP
You can see a full compilation of the monitoring reports on the cyanobacteria tracker map housed at the Vermont Department of Health website. LCC adds reports on a daily basis during the monitoring season and they are accessible to anyone with an internet connection. The site is a great resource to learn about conditions throughout the season. You can select a lake segment or lake, zoom in on sites, and find out the status of lake conditions based on the most recent report. Please check out the site and let other lake users know about this resource. The vast majority of these points are provided by LCC monitors.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CYANOBACTERIA
Check out the Lake Champlain Committee (LCC) website for more information about cyanobacteria. You’ll find additional resources at the links below to help you identify and avoid blooms.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE OR SUSPECT A BLOOM
- Report it to the Lake Champlain Committee using our online form. Click here for how to assess conditions. (See the instructions below about using the online reporting form.)
- Avoid contact with the water in the area of the bloom.
- If you've been in contact with a bloom, rinse and shower thoroughly as soon as possible.
- Keep people (especially children) and pets out of the water.
- Do not drink, prepare food, cook or make ice or brush your teeth with untreated lake water regardless of whether or not there is a bloom.
- If you suspect a bloom near your intake, don’t use the water. Cyanobacteria and their toxins are not removed with in-home water treatment systems, or by boiling water or disinfecting with chlorine, ultraviolet light (UV), or other treatment.
- See a doctor if someone gets ill after exposure to a cyanobacteria bloom and have them report bloom-related illnesses to the health department.
When collecting a water sample to photograph, take care to avoid exposure to cyanobacteria. Wear gloves, don't wade or immerse yourself in the water and wash any exposed portions of your body immediately after collecting the sample. Feel free to forego taking a physical sample for photography. If you see a bloom, avoid contact with water containing cyanobacteria and file a report right away.
LCC Cyanobacteria Reporting Form
If you think you see a bloom, use the Lake Champlain Committee’s online reporting form to report the conditions as soon as possible. Fill in the following information on the LCC online form:
- Lake (we oversee monitoring sites on Lake Champlain and several inland lakes)
- Lake Region (if you don’t know it, just make your best guess and we’ll correct it if necessary)
- Municipality (the town/city where you observed cyanobacteria)
- Site # (put “Not applicable” unless you’re a trained monitor and have an assigned number)
- Site Name (provide the name the sites is usually referenced as; if it’s your home location, use the street address or some way to identify it on a map)
- If you observed a bloom at a public beach or recreation be sure to let on-site personnel know about the condition and list the full name of the person you spoke with in the box provided. If you didn’t note the condition to anyone, please note the reason why (such as no one on-site).
- Type of Report (choose “Supplemental”)
- Routine weekly reporting day (skip this or select “Filing supplemental report”)
- Date of observation (Month/Day/Year – for example 07/06/2018)
- Time of observation (military time; for example, 1:00 pm should be listed as 13:00)
- Category for water conditions (click here if you need further guidance to determine the category)
- Additional Details (provide any information that will be helpful to us in assessing your report, such as extent of the bloom, guidance for reviewing any photos you submit, any questions you have)
- Photos (we appreciate photos any time you report but need them especially when you report category 1 d, category 2 or category 3 conditions; the form provides guidance on the need for close-up, wide-angle and jar test pictures; file uploads are limited to 10Mb total per form)
- Extent of bloom (check “no bloom” if you’re reporting categories 1 a through 1 d)
- Cyanobacteria color (check “no color” or “other” when not reporting a bloom and describe in the “Color details” section below)
- Water Temperature (if you have a thermometer, add the temperature in Fahrenheit)
- Water Surface (use the drop-down menu to note the water surface when you assessed conditions)
- Check all the reasons you’re using the LCC reporting form that apply
- Contact information (please fill in all the fields)
- Please check your work carefully before pressing the “Submit” button
To help us assess the conditions you’re observing, include at least three photos (our form has a 10 Mb limit per report upload) with your report:
It's very helpful if you can save your photos titling them with the date-photographer's name-location-water category-and photo type as shown in the example below. We receive hundreds of photos each season and don’t have time to re-label them.
- A close-up of the bloom.
- A wide-angle photo of the bloom and surrounding land and water.
- A photo of the water sample in a glass jar, after it has sat in the sun for 30 minutes, with a white piece of paper behind the jar that includes the date, sample time, photo time, site #, site name, town, category, water temperature (if possible) and your name. If you witness a bloom, don’t delay in sending in your report and photos, but in most cases, a half hour will have elapsed between the time you took your water sample and the time you have filed your report.
Example file name: 2018-08-06_BambiMonitor_Beauty Bay_Category 3 Bloom Close-up
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE CYANOBACTERIA MONITORING DATA?
Lake Champlain Committee monitor reports are recorded on the Lake Champlain cyanobacterial tracking map housed on the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) website. All reports are vetted by the Lake Champlain Committee (LCC) or our partners at VDH and the Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation before they show up on the tracker. You should be able to check the map throughout the season for data on the Lake Champlain sites as well as several inland lakes. The vast majority of information provided on the site comes through LCC's cyanobacteria monitoring program. It's a clear illustration of the critical role these "citizen scientist" monitors play in assessing lake conditions. The weekly reports are also provided to public health, environmental, and recreation agencies and managers and interested citizens. Please pass on this link to anyone you think might be interested in receiving our weekly emails.
SPREADING THE WORD
As someone who cares about water, please help spread awareness about the risks of cyanobacteria and actions to take, particularly if you see people or pets recreating in bloom conditions. Your outreach builds a more informed and engaged citizenry. Never drink, prepare food, cook or make ice or brush your teeth with untreated surface water regardless of whether or not there is a bloom. Cyanobacteria and their toxins are not removed with in-home water treatment systems, or by boiling water or disinfecting with chlorine, ultraviolet light (UV), or other treatment.
Blooms are caused by a combination of warm water temperatures and high concentrations of nutrients in the water, particularly phosphorus. Reducing the supply of nutrients is key to reducing blooms. So please continue to take actions around your home and workplace and advocate for stringent controls to protect water quality.
BACKGROUND ON LCC's MONITORING PROGRAM
The Lake Champlain Committee (LCC) developed a cyanobacteria monitoring program for Lake Champlain in 2003/2004 and has overseen the citizen-based program ever since. The focus of the program is to raise awareness of the issue, build a database of information on bloom frequency, and identify and publicize any potential health hazards. The information gathered will help us better understand the triggers for blooms and aid in the work to reduce their frequency.
LCC coordinates our monitoring program closely with Vermont and New York health, environmental and recreation agencies. We annually train hundreds of citizens in methods to assess and report on water conditions. We also conduct trainings for state and municipal park staff, town health officers, and public water supply operators. LCC monitors provide important data on lake health from more than 100 Lake Champlain and inland lake locations.
FUNDERS & PARTNERS
The Lake Champlain Committee's cyanobacteria monitoring program is funded by LCC members and the Lake Champlain Basin Program. Key program partners include the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation, Vermont Department of Health, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, New York Department of Health, the Lake Champlain Basin Program, and New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission.