Harm­ful al­gae bloom re­ported by ShoreRivers in the Sas­safras

Kent County News - - FRONT PAGE -

CHESTERTOWN — A harm­ful al­gal bloom in the Sas­safras River poses a health risk to peo­ple and pets, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease is­sued Tues­day by ShoreRivers.

In con­junc­tion with the Mary­land De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Em­mett Duke, the Sas­safras river­keeper at ShoreRivers, first iden­ti­fied the bloom Sept. 17 in the large tidal pond be­tween Turn­ers Creek and Lloyd Creek on the Kent County side of the river.

The blue-green al­gae, Os­cil­la­to­ria lem­nosa, is pro­duc­ing a toxin called mi­cro­cystin, which can cause a skin rash and, if in­gested, can cause liver dam­age, the re­lease states.

Ac­cord­ing to ShoreRivers, the toxin is es­pe­cially dan- ger­ous to young chil­dren and small an­i­mals be­cause of the higher pos­si­bil­ity of in­ges­tion. The En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency set lim­its for ex­po­sure at 4 parts per bil­lion, while the Mary­land De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­ment puts it at 10 parts per bil­lion.

The most re­cent al­gae sam­ple from the pond, taken Sept. 17, re­port­edly con­tained 69 part per bil­lion of the toxin.

“For this rea­son, ShoreRivers rec­om­mends avoid­ing con­tact with wa­ter in the tidal pond un­til the level of the toxin has fallen below the guide­line level,” the re­lease states.

A warn­ing sign from the Mary­land De­part­ment of Health and Men­tal Hy­giene has been posted at the tidal pond. The re­lease states that test­ing will be con­ducted at least weekly and the sign will re­main in place un­til the test­ing shows no more dan­ger.

“Os­cil­la­to­ria lem­nosa is a nat­u­rally-oc­cur­ring al­gae that lies in the river sed­i­ment. A com­bi­na­tion of high lev­els of nu­tri­ent pol­lu­tion and un­usu­ally high wa­ter tem­per­a­tures con­trib­ute to this and other harm­ful al­gal blooms. It’s hard work and ev­ery­one needs to do their part, but we can pre­vent these harm­ful blooms by re­duc­ing nu­tri­ent pol­lu­tion,” Duke said in a state­ment.

ShoreRivers is ac­tively im­ple­ment­ing restora­tion projects and ad­vo­cat­ing for strong clean wa­ter poli­cies that will re­duce nu­tri­ent pol­lu­tion and help pre­vent sim­i­lar harm­ful al­gal blooms, the re­lease states.

Any­one notic­ing what may ap­pear to be a sig­nif­i­cant al­gal bloom on lo­cal wa­ter­ways can re­port it to ShoreRivers at 443-3850511. ShoreRivers is a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion aim­ing to pro­tect and re­store lo­cal wa­ter­ways.

PHOTO BY JOSH BIDDLE

Sas­safras River­keeper Em­mett Duke posts a sign warn­ing of harm­ful al­gae at the tidal pond be­tween Turn­ers Creek and Llyod Creek.

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