EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

August 31, 2013

Advisory lifted for Lake Attitash

State will end its weekly tests for blue-green algae

AMESBURY — The state has declared Lake Attitash safe once again after recent tests found reduced levels of blue-green algae, giving residents the go-ahead to return to the water just in time for this weekend’s annual boat parade.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the state also announced that it is ending its weekly monitoring of the lake, meaning future blooms of the dangerous bacteria could go unnoticed.

The Lake Attitash Association made the announcement on Wednesday, saying the water sample taken from the state boat ramp in Merrimac met the state Department of Public Health’s safety guidelines for the second week in a row, allowing the state to lift its advisory urging residents to stay out of the water.

The most recent bloom of blue-green algae was first detected back in mid-July, and subsequent water tests since then found stubbornly high algae readings, dragging out the latest advisory for nearly half the summer.

Blue-green algae — or cyanobacteria as it’s known scientifically — is known to produce toxins that can be harmful to humans and pets, and it has been a persistent scourge for residents of Lake Attitash for many years. The algae was first reported on the lake in 2009, and since 2010 the lake has been routinely monitored on a weekly basis by the state, according to DPH spokeswoman Anne Roach.

The funds used to monitor Lake Attitash and four other lakes in Massachusetts came from a grant awarded to the state by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Roach said Massachusetts was one of 10 states to receive the grant, and this year the state received $140,000 for the program. But the five-year agreement was set to end in September of this year, and the CDC decided not to renew the program.

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