NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

May 8, 2013

Lake Attitash group prepares to battle weeds, algae again

By Mac Cerullo
Staff Writer

---- — AMESBURY — With boating season just over the horizon, Lake Attitash residents are preparing to renew their efforts to keep harmful invasive weeds and blue-green algae out of the water.

The Lake Attitash Association will be holding its annual meeting Monday at 7 p.m. at The Barn Pub and Grille, and all members of the public are welcome to attend.

Ron Klodenski, an association spokesman, said the primary focus of this year’s meeting will be on dealing with invasive weeds and cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, which are two separate but serious issues that have plagued the lake for years.

Klodenski said the association is planning on continuing two successful programs geared toward preventing invasive weeds from taking hold in the lake. One is a Weed Watching Program where a group of volunteers will inspect the lake monthly and report any invasive weeds they find.

“We’re also going to continue our boat ramp monitoring,” Klodenski said. “We try to get volunteers to be at the boat ramp in Merrimac to help people check their boats into the lake so they don’t bring any weeds into the lake.”

The monitors would be stationed at the state boat ramp in Merrimac and they would help boaters clean plant matter off their boats before entering and after exiting the lake to prevent the spread of weeds.

As for cyanobacteria, the state will soon begin testing the water to measure the concentration of algae blooms. High concentrations of cyanobacteria is dangerous; and if the state reads a measurement of over 70,000 cells per milliliter, it will issue an advisory recommending that people stay out of the water.

Last summer the state issued three such advisories, urging boaters to stay away for much of May and June, most of July and again in September for the remainder of the boating season. Once an advisory is issued, the state must collect two consecutive “clean” water samples before the advisory can be lifted. Tests are conducted weekly at the Merrimac boat ramp.

Cyanobacteria has been a recurring problem in Lake Attitash, and Klodenski said the association believes the water’s high levels of phosphorus are the cause. Over the past year the Environmental Protection Agency has been studying the lake to identify a source of the phosphorus, but at this point the results are still being analyzed.

“It’s been tough for them, they’re operating under a limited budget and there is essentially one person working on this, and he’s working on 10 other things too,” Klodenski said. “He had interns helping him, but they’ve been cut too, so it’s taking him longer than expected.”

Klodenski said he expects the EPA will announce their findings before the end of the summer, and at that point the association will figure out how it will tackle the problem once and for all.

“We have a list of possibilities as far as where the phosphorus is coming from, but at this point we don’t know where the money and effort would be best spent,” Klodenski said. “We want to tackle the big issues and not the little ones around the edges.”