NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 21, 2012

Council funnels $45,000 into treating Lake Attitash

Funds will help combat milfoil, algae problems

AMESBURY — Don't expect the problems affecting Lake Attitash to wash away now that the Municipal Council has approved spending $45,000 to treat the body of water that runs between Amesbury and Merrimac.

The two problems plaguing the lake — an invasive weed known as milfoil and blue-green algae — will continue to exist, but Lake Attitash Association leaders say the funding will allow them to be better equipped to deal with the issues.

"I can't say we're all done. We'll be fundraising and asking residents every year to maintain and improve the water quality of Lake Attitash," Cindy Roberts of the Lake Attitash Association said.

Last week, the Municipal Council voted to approve giving $45,000 from the free cash account to the lake association, which has been working over the past year to raise $100,000.

The group is trying to tackle long-standing problems with milfoil and blue-green algae, which have worsened in recent years.

High levels of blue-green algae forced the lake to be closed for periods over the past two years — for 10 weeks in 2010 and from mid-June to early July last year.

The two-pronged treatment approach will involve attacking the milfoil first. The Lake Attitash Association will develop a strategy to go after the blue-green algae, which is actually a bacteria known as cyanobacteria.

The association is waiting on the results of a federal Environmental Protection Agency study on the lake. Lake Attitash was one of a handful of lakes picked by the EPA for the study on New England lakes.

The EPA study will try to determine what causes the algae blooms: Is is coming into the lake from an outside source, such as storm drains, or is it already in the lake's sediment?

If the study finds the algae blooms are caused by runoff, the group has to figure out a way to stop it, Roberts said.

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