Recreation Director Nicole Conley said the beach will be closed until further notice. “Please stay out of the water, including your pets,” she said. “There has been a Cyanobacteria (blue green algae) bloom found at Charlotte Town Beach.”
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Charlotte Beach has been rated “high alert” on the Vermont Department of Heath’s Blue Green Algae Tracker. Charlotte Deputy Health Officer Joe Rheaume said the beach is closed and he will monitor the situation daily.
Rheaume also serves as the town zoning administrator.
“The Department of Health contacted me on Monday in the afternoon and I went down and posted signs,” Rheaume said. “At this time I do not have enough information to say if this is an increasing problem or a one-time incident due to a number of conditions happening at once.”
Beaches in Burlington and St. Albans are also at a high alert status on the Vermont Department of Heath’s Blue Green Algae Tracker and are closed.
Charlotter Louisa Schibli said the water looked clear on Tuesday and people were swimming at Charlotte Beach even though the warning signs were posted.
Skin exposure to cyanobacteria can cause allergy-like symptoms and rashes. If ingested, more severe symptoms could result. Cyanobacteria are tiny organisms that can form surface scums, or blooms, on the water’s surface and wash up along shorelines. This can make the water appear dark green, and look like pea soup or spilled paint. Blooms can also appear as white, brown, red or purple.
Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation reported the current warm, sunny weather has created ideal growing conditions for cyanobacteria in Vermont waters. “Unfortunately, the same summer weather that may extend our beach season is perfect for cyanobacteria to grow,” said Sarah Vose, state toxicologist for the Vermont Department of Health. “If you see it, stay away.”
Climate change has increased water temperatures by 2°F to 7°F in Lake Champlain over the past 50 years, and extended the warm season by several weeks, which provides more favorable conditions for cyanobacteria blooms and leads to a longer bloom season, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation reported in a press release.
Emily Boedecker, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, said these late-summer blooms severely impact the ability of Vermonters to enjoy waters and pose significant problems for lake residents. “I understand residents’ frustration at the pace of progress,” she said. “As the regulatory provisions established in Vermont’s Clean Water Act take hold, and required and voluntary efforts by Vermonters increase, we will make progress in reducing pollution from all sources, and reduce the pollutant load that has been accumulating in lake-bottom sediment for decades.”
To report a cyanobacteria bloom email BloomAlert@vermont.gov, include location and photos, or call the Health Department at 1-800-439-8550 during business hours. If you have any local questions call Nicole Conley or Joseph Rheaume at The Town of Charlotte at (802) 425-6129.