The Town will be embarking on a pilot project this summer to target and remove harmful algae/cyanobacteria blooms (HABs), their toxins, and excess nutrients from White Pond.
Higgins Environmental Associates (HEA) has developed an open-water technology, funded by the National Science Foundation, called the A-Pod Hab Trap and Removal Process. This technology works either passively or actively. In passive mode, HABs are concentrated in the “base member or trap” portion of the A-Pod by wind-induced and natural water currents. In active mode, extendable and detachable “collection members” of the A-Pod are extended around targeted HAB areas in the pond, then drawn back forcing water with suspended HABs into the A-Pod’s trap. When targeted HABs are sufficiently concentrated, the trap is closed and HABs can then be permanently removed from the water body.
Both strategies are intended to be deployed at White Pond in an effort to reduce the toxic blue-green algae blooms that the pond is experiencing. HEA is also investigating the reuse of HABs as a natural organic fertilizer to improve soil health. The pilot program involves no chemicals and is being offered at no cost to the Town.
For more information, visit HEA’s website www.ppodtech.com and recent webinar on YouTube at https://youtu.be/ZnX1hXDrGYs
Residents are reminded that a No Swimming Advisory remains in effect for White Pond due to the bloom of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). These blooms may produce toxins that can make pets and people sick. The No Swimming Advisory will remain in effect until visible algal scums are no longer present and algal cells counts are found to be below the MDPH limit of 70,000 cells/ml.
The Concord Board of Health strongly advises:
• Do not swim anywhere in White Pond
• Do not allow your pet to swim in or drink the water.
• Rinse pets and children off immediately if they come into contact with an algae bloom
• Avoid contact with areas of algae concentration along the shore.
Health concerns associated with cyanobacteria blooms vary depending on the type of cyanobacteria, the route of exposure, and the amount of cyanotoxins present. Ingestion is the primary concern since ingesting small amounts of cyanobacteria or cyanotoxin can cause gastrointestinal symptoms while larger amounts may cause liver or neurological damage. Contact with cyanobacteria can cause skin or eye irritation. Inhaling water spray containing cyanobacteria can cause asthma-like symptoms. Small children and pets are more susceptible to the effects of cyanotoxins than adults.
Call your veterinarian immediately if your pet has been around an algae bloom and shows symptoms such as vomiting, staggering, drooling, or convulsions. These symptoms present fairly soon after exposure. Animals of most concern are dogs, which have been known to eat the scum that washes ashore and/or lick scum out of their fur. In Massachusetts and in many other states, canine fatalities have been observed due to the ingestion of harmful algae.