Cyanobacteria blooms can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. So humans and pets should avoid contact with what is now a list of 20 bodies of water in Rhode Island
State officials recommend avoiding contact with two Newport County bodies of water because of blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.
Watson Reservoir in Little Compton and Gardiner Pond in Middletown are now added to 18 other ponds, rivers and reservoirs in Rhode Island with advisories in place.
Among them are Newport’s Almy Pond and Portsmouth’s Melville Ponds and Sisson Pond.
All the advisories will remain in effect until further notice. The other waters include:Cranston: Spectacle Pond, Blackmore Pond East Providence: Central Pond, Ten Mile River, and Omega Pond North Smithfield: Tarkiln Pond Providence: Roosevelt, Willow, Edgewood, and Pleasure Lakes, Japanese Gardens (all in Roger Williams Park), Mashapaug Pond Rumford: Turner Reservoir Smithfield-Johnston: Slack Reservoir Warwick: Little Pond
The state Department of Health and Department of Environmental Management are advising people to avoid recreation and not ingest untreated water or eat fish from these and the following waters. Pet owners should not allow their pets to drink from or swim in these waters.
Contact with untreated water containing blue-green algae can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. If water containing algal toxins is ingested, health effects can include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, due to their size and because they are more likely to drink contaminated water. Other health effects can include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. People who have been swimming in, or have otherwise been in contact with the affected waters who experience symptoms should contact their health care providers.
Anyone who comes into contact with waters with blue-green algae should rinse their skin with clean water as soon as possible, bathe, and wash their clothes. Wash any pet that comes in contact with this water with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off of its fur. Call a veterinarian if the pet shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, which include loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a few days of contact with the water.
Watson Reservoir and Gardiner Pond are drinking water sources maintained by Newport Water but are not currently being used to deliver drinking water to customers. As the main drinking water supplier for the residents of Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth, Newport Water serves nearly 70,000 people. Even when a blue-green algae bloom is present, the treated water that Newport Water distributes to homes is safe, officials said. Treatment removes harmful bacteria, including cyanobacteria, before the water is delivered to customers. Newport Water follows all state and federal drinking water testing and monitoring requirements to assure that treatment processes are working correctly and the treated water is safe to drink.
Most cyanobacteria blooms occur in the summer and fall, but they can occur at any time of year.
Cyanobacteria blooms also occur elsewhere in Rhode Island. The public should avoid contact with any body of water in Rhode Island that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.
To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at (401) 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.