Metro

Lake Champlain water being monitored for toxic algae

MONTPELIER — The 22 water systems in Vermont that draw from Lake Champlain are participating in a program to regularly monitor for a potentially toxic blue-green algae that shut down service to 400,000 customers in Ohio last summer.

Scientists say this summer is shaping up to be a bad year for blue-green algae on Lake Champlain. Several beaches have been closed this summer on the Vermont and New York shores. There have been a few reports of small amounts of the toxin detected in untreated water, but none in treated drinking water.

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In previous years, the water system operators sampled water only if an algae bloom was spotted near a water plant.

“A lot of people now, they’re scared, they’re thinking about it,” said Brian Bishop, chief operator for the Swanton Village drinking water system, which draw water from the northeastern arm of Lake Champlain.

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Bishop said he and other public water officials have followed the threat posed by the potentially toxic blue-green algae blooms caused at least partly by phosphorous pollution from rivers and streams.

Not all blue-green algae contains toxins, but people who come into contact with the toxins can get skin rashes, vomiting, and diarrhea. The toxins have killed dogs and livestock.

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