EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 2, 2013

Stevens Pond bacteria problems may have solution

NORTH ANDOVER — Swimming at Stevens Pond is probably one of the last things local residents are thinking about at this time of the year, but the town’s most popular outdoor swimming place will be the subject of a public meeting Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall.

Due to a massive outbreak of blue/green algae, officially known as cyanobacteria, the pond was closed to swimming for most of the summer. The town reimbursed those who had paid for summer passes to the beach and swimming area.

Several weeks ago, Public Works Director Bruce Thibodeau asked Aquatic Control Technology Inc., a Sutton firm that advises the town on water issues, to assess Stevens Pond to determine what measures can be taken to prevent a recurrence of the cyanobacteria outbreak.

Both Aquatic Control Technology and Weston & Sampson, a Peabody engineering firm, have completed their initial data collection, Thibodeau said. The two companies have made some preliminary findings but have not prepared final recommendations, the DPW director said.

The recommendations will be presented at the Jan. 30 public meeting and residents will have the opportunity to comment on them, Thibodeau said. The meeting will be held in the Selectmen’s Meeting Room on the second floor of the Town Hall.

“Once we have received input, the study will be finalized and the management techniques recommended to be most effective to control the algae outbreak will be implemented,” Thibodeau wrote in a memo to Town Manager Andrew Maylor that was presented to the selectmen last week.

The Board of Health closed Stevens Pond last July after a test of water samples revealed a high quantity of cyanobacteria. The pond was never reopened to swimming.

Exposure to cyanobacteria can be fatal to dogs, who are apt to drink pond water, and can inflict a skin rash on humans, according to town Health Director Susan Sawyer.

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