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Forest Lake advisory cites discovery of cyanobacteria

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter
July 30, 2020
DALTON — Just a few weeks after Forest Lake in Dalton was dubbed one of the cleanest lakes in the state, a small amount of cyanobacteria was discovered in a shallow section of the lake, causing the state to post an advisory sign to swimmers.

A small bloom was found near a shallow area by a homeowner roughly three quarters of a mile from the beach. The information was relayed to fellow resident Dr. Adam Finkel who recently conducted his own research along with the state. As reported, those findings showed the lake to be pristine.

NHDES tested the samples on July 18,19 and 20 and concluded that the amount of cyanobacteria found, exceeded the state's threshold of 70,000 cells/ml. The report stated that at least 1 million cells/ml of Anabaena (Dolichospermum) was found on July 18. In addition, samples included Microcystis and Aphanizomenon. The report further stated that on July 20, the bacteria dissipated, as is typical, however small samples were still found. Those using the lake to recreate are advised to be on the lookout for the bright blue-green algae flecks along the shoreline and to avoid contact, this includes pets.

Cyanobacteria discoveries are not uncommon, and occur when excess nutrients are available to the water. NHDES relays that acute health effects could include numbness, vomiting, seizures, skin irritation and stomach issues. Because cyanobacteria is a neurotoxin, it could affect a person's central nervous system or liver.

As of July 26, no blooms were visible. Finkel offered his thoughts on the ironic finding, "The simplest reason for this is that we've never had one before, but if we ever were going to have one, it would be in the days after natural events occurred." Those events, included heavy rains and storms followed by extremely hot weather. According to Finkel, another cause of the findings could be chemicals that leaked into the water from disposed fireworks after the busy July 4 weekend.

Finkel added, "One thing that is important to note is that this finding shows how fragile the lake is. A shallow mountain lake, that had great readings for thirty years can shift after one natural event, and affect the fragile balance. Any industrial development on or near the lake isn't a good idea."

Casella Waste Systems is currently attempting to build a landfill in Dalton, however a temporary zoning ordinance has thwarted the development.

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