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Memphmremagog Goes Green - In A Bad Way

August 1, 2012

Cyanobacteria blooms in Lake Memphremagog are causing health concerns on both sides of the international border. Workshops are planned to address the issue. Photo courtesy Memphremagog Conservation Inc.

NEWPORT - New blooms of Cyanobacteria (known as “blue-green algae”) were spotted on the Canadian side of Lake Memphremagog several times recently. The blooms covered a large area and were spotted in several locations.
Memphremagog Conservation Inc. photos from July show a thick, scum-like, bright greenish-blue substance on the water.
Cyanobacteria blooms are of serious concern because they could be toxic and harm humans or animals who bath or swim in the water or who drink it. Cyanobacteria is found worldwide and is most prevalent in clam-nutrient rich waters. (World Health Organization)
Some small amounts of Cyanobacteria were spotted surfacing in Newport this summer, but not enough to warrant concern yet. Don Hendrich, president of the Memphremagog Watershed Association, said he has not heard of a bloom this summer in the Newport area.
Blooms did show up in Newport last year, however. Hendrich says he is not sure if they were tested for toxicity. Blooms die within a few days, Hendrich explained, and when they die they release any toxic substances they may contain into the water.
One current major issue with Lake Memphremagog is excessive nutrients from run-off including phosphorus and nitrogen. Run-off into the lake comes mainly from human activities such as agriculture, fertilizing lawns, and industry. Nutrient waters create an environment ideal for excessive cyanobacteria growth.
The Lake Memphremagog Watershed Association (MWA) has a committee that looks for signs of cyanobacteria blooms or other invasive species. The association is working with others to spread information and is completing and planning projects to address the problem.
The MWA is hosting a workshop on identifying aquatic invasive species and cyanobacteria on August 15 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the Community College of Vermont's (CCV) science laboratory at the Hebard State Building, 100 Main Street, Suite 150.
Participants will receive certification as Invasive Patrollers by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. Classroom sessions will begin at 10 a.m. A field component will follow on Lake Memphremagog. This event is part of the Northeast Kingdom Healthy Waters Workshops series, co-sponsored by local lake associations, the Federation of Vermont Lakes and Ponds, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.
For more information, please contact Bethany Sargent of the VT-DEC (802/338-4819) or Perry Thomas of CCV-Newport (334-3330). To register, call Maria Young, Education Director at NorthWoods Stewardship Center: (802) 723-6551 x115. The registration deadline has been extended to August 13.

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