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Signs of Improvement, but Algal Bloom Persists in Fort Pond

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 16:07

Bacteria levels continued to drop at some Concerned Citizens of Montauk testing sites this week thanks to drier weather earlier in the week, but harmful blue-green algae continue to affect Fort Pond. Testing results for the week showed a bloom only at the southern end of the pond; concentrations at the north end dropped below the State Department of Environmental Conservation's threshold for harmful blooms but remain at high risk. To be safe, people are still urged to avoid contact with the water until further notice. 

For those who wish to fish, C.C.O.M recommends waiting a few days until after heavy rain has passed, particularly in waters that are "slow-moving or closed and do not experience thorough 'flushing' with the tides," Kate Rossi-Snook, an environmental advocate for C.C.O.M., wrote. Sites with limited to no flushing are the most consistently problematic areas. 

C.C.O.M. monitors Fort Pond for blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, in partnership with the Gobler Lab at Stony Brook Southampton. The samples it collects are sent to the lab for testing. This week's tests showed no blue-green algal bloom in Big Reed Pond, where one had been present before. 

C.C.O.M. also tests water bodies in Montauk, Amagansett, East Hampton, and Springs for the bacteria enterococcus. Those results are shared on the Surfrider Foundation's Blue Water Task Force online portal. Entero levels are often elevated, posing a risk to human health, following "heavy rains, extreme high tides, or warm water temperatures," Ms. Rossi-Snook explained.

Of the 32 sites tested this week, three showed high entero levels. The Pussy's Pond testing site showed the highest bacteria levels-- 1,455-- nearly 14 times the threshold considered a risk to human health (entero levels at 104 and above are considered a risk). Testing at the Methodist Lane swale in East Hampton revealed the second highest bacterial level -- 485. 

The last testing site with a high entero level was the East Creek sampling site at Lake Montauk, which indicated a much lower presences compared to the other two sites. 

In Montauk, this week's results indicated medium entero levels at the Little Reed Pond Creek and West Creek testing site at Lake Montauk, as well as the boat ramp at Fort Pond. 

In East Hampton, the testing site at the head of Three Mile Harbor and the one at the culvert end of Northwest Creek both showed high entero levels.

CCOM will continue its testing weekly through the summer. 

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