OPC Collaborates with APCC
The Orleans Pond Coalition (OPC) is announcing its agreement to partner with the Association to Preserve Cape Cod’s (APCC) cyanobacteria monitoring program. Four Orleans ponds will be included in the program. APCC initiated the monitoring program in 2017 in response to an increasing frequency of cyanobacterial blooms in freshwater lakes and ponds.
The Orleans ponds selected for this program are Pilgrim Lake, Uncle Harvey’s Pond, Crystal Lake, and Ice House Pond. A group of volunteers will undergo training by APCC to learn their sampling protocols. Twice weekly, May through October, volunteers will take samples, observations, and photographs of the water. Samples will be analyzed by APCC to help characterize and measure the abundance of cyanobacteria present at any one time.
Our freshwater ponds are “the soul of the Cape”- for some, places of peace and contemplation. For others, they are fishing holes, or places to kayak and paddle board, or where first-time swimmers can safely learn in quiet water. The onset of a cyanobacteria bloom threatens the pursuit of these pleasures. It is often characterized by the appearance of a thick scum than can range in color from blue-green to orange, the color of which depends on the pigments present in the growth. It can also be accompanied by a foul odor. While not all cyanobacteria are harmful, some can produce harmful toxins. Toxins dissolved in the water can be lethal to fish, birds and mammals who drink from the pond. Humans may develop skin rashes or other ailments on direct contact with the water. Wind blowing across the bloom may waft toxins into the air causing respiratory difficulties.
Cyanobacteria blooms typically occur during late Summer or early Fall. While cyanobacteria are not a new threat to lakes, excessive accumulations have been increasing in frequency and duration for several decades. The two most often cited causes are excess nutrients in lakes due to run off from septic, lawns, and animal waste and warming due to climate change. According to Kevin Johnson, APCC’s Cyanobacteria Program Coordinator, ‘Over the past four years our monitoring program has proven to be helpful in supporting citizen pond groups and towns to address the emerging issue of harmful cyanobacteria blooms across the Cape. It has also been successful in raising awareness of the impacts of nutrient pollution and climate change on our freshwater ponds and highlights the vital importance of addressing the causes.’ OPC’s collaboration with APCC furthers it intention to sponsor water quality research. Ken Wagner, OPC’s environmental consultant also emphasizes- ‘The first step in management is gaining an understanding of the pattern of cyanobacteria occurrence in any given water body and having a monitoring program that quantifies types of cyanobacteria and tests for the presence of toxins….’
By tracking ponds throughout the monitoring season, APCC believes that they are often able to forecast when blooms are forming, allowing towns to prepare and take proactive management actions to protect public safety and water quality.
If you are interested in assisting with our monitoring program please contact OPC through our website. You can also follow the work being done on either our website or through APCC interactive map, updated daily (https://apcc.org/our- work/science/community-science/cyanobacteria/ )..