Public Meeting Will Discuss Cyanobacteria Threat

Freedom—April 6, 2019—Add “cyanobacteria” to the list of environmental threats to the state’s lakes. On May 11, Dr. Jim Haney, a UNH cyanobacteria expert, will speak on the topic at a public meeting from 9 a.m. to Noon in Wolfeboro Town Hall. The meeting is sponsored by the Wentworth Watershed Association.

Cyanobacteria are natural components of water bodies that can trigger unsightly algae blooms when there is an excess of nutrients in the water. The resulting blue-green algae scum patches and colored flecks can trigger harmful toxins that cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and skin irritations. Or not. 

Since the outcome of the blooms can vary, the state typically errs on the side of caution and recommends avoiding affected waters after cyanobacteria blooms are confirmed. 

Last August, DES confirmed cyanobacteria in parts of Danforth Pond and warned swimmers to avoid the affected areas. The state also recommended that pets be kept out of the water. The warning was lifted after a week, but was reinstated through Labor Day after a second patch was confirmed. 

Cyanobacteria was also found last year near the dam in Berry Bay, but dissipated before a warning could be issued.  

The excess nutrients in lakes that trigger cyanobacteria are often caused by fertilizers. The NH Shoreland Protection Act prohibits the use of fertilizer closer than 25 feet from shore. Between 25 and 250 feet from shore, only low phosphate, slow release nitrogen fertilizer may be used. Failed or leaking septic systems can also result in nutrients leaching into lakes and rivers. 

At the May 11 meeting, Dr. Haney will chair a panel of experts on risk factors, such as storm water runoff, and what can be done to reduce the cyanobacteria threat. 

Registration and coffee will be at 8:30 a.m. in the Great Hall of the Wolfeboro Town Hall, and there will be mid-morning catered food. The meeting is free and open to all.

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