Town of Fairlee Cyanobacteria Protocol: Lake Morey

The Town will conduct visual monitoring testing (not toxin testing).

Visual monitoring can be done by Town staff and community members.

If  you suspect a potential Cyanobacteria outbreak, contact the State of VT at
1-800-439-8550 and the Fairlee Health Officer, the point person for the Town, at 1-800-333-4363 extension 103.

The VT state publication “Cyanobacteria – Guidance for VT Communities” is available to community members and posted on the Town web site.

The Health Officer will field calls from VT state officials, as well as, community members of potential findings of  Cyanobacteria.  The Town will advise community members not to swim, nor let pets into the water, where Cyanobacteria is evident.

If Cyanobacteria is found in the Town Beach swimming vicinity, the beach front will be posted closed until the bacteria has subsided. If necessary, the Health Officer may contact Town Beach staff to inform them of the potential findings and request the beach front be closed. The Health Officer will also close the beach front, in the event Beach Staff are not on duty.

How to Identify Cyanobacteria*

 *Cyanobacteria – Guidance for VT Communities – Appendix A
ads 8 Aug 2005/edited Lab 12/2008

Ways to identify a cyanobacteria(blue-green algae) accumulation:

STEP 1 Examine the material visually:
NOT cyanobacteria if :
– you can see leaf-like structures or roots
– the material is long and stringy, or can be lifted out of the water on a stick
– if it is firmly attached to plants, rock or the bottom (e.g. you can’t lift it out)

MAY be potentially hazardous cyanobacteria if :
– the material consists of small particles that are pinhead size or smaller
– the material is collecting in a layer at the surface or along the shoreline
– the water is murky and colored a brownish green, milky green or blue

STEP 2 Do the “float” test:
Many cyanobacteria can regulate their buoyancy and will float to the top of the
water when it is calm. Most other algae don’t have this ability. Most debris and
plant material will sink or be identifiable as debris. Microscopic animals will swim
randomly and often with a jerky motion.

You can check to see if cyanobacteria are present by filling a clear 2L soda bottle
or a bucket with water. The water should be collected away from any debris or
large plant material floating along the shoreline. Allow the bucket or bottle to
stand in a quiet sunny place, out of the wind. If present, cyanobacteria will often
begin to move toward the surface. Wait 15 – 30 minutes and observe the upper
portion of the container. Cyanobacteria, which may be a mix of several different
kinds, will tend to accumulate in the upper portion while debris and plant material
will be at the bottom. There may be smaller material in the middle, which will
remain suspended for some time. When filling the container from a dense
accumulation, minimize skin contact with the material by wearing gloves or a
plastic bag over your hands.

A thin layer of cyanobacteria at the top is usually not a problem. Cyanobacteria
are found in most water bodies at concentrations that are not of concern. If you
have ruled out non- cyanobacteria using the steps above, and there is a thick
layer that is more than an inch deep at the top of the container, it may be prudent
to have the sample examined microscopically.

Be aware that the concentration of cyanobacteria at a location can change daily,
even hourly, as the weather conditions change. If you do the float test routinely,
you will begin to become familiar with how the water and cyanobacteria look
under different conditions. Also, cyanobacteria may not always move to the
surface in 30 minutes. If there is a bloom in progress, with a large amount of
cyanobacteria in the water, at least a portion should move toward the surface.
With experience, you will become familiar with how your lake looks and when
conditions warrant a closer examination.