Harmful algae in Pittsfield lake concerns local residents


PITTSFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – On a sunny Saturday a popular lake in Pittsfield was almost empty.

On Thursday, Pittsfield Public Health Director, Gina Armstrong, released a warning about potentially harmful algae in Pontoosuc Lake.

The blue-green algae, called cyanobacteria, they found may exceed the State Department of Health guidelines for recreational bodies of water. Now, officials are telling people to stay out of the water.

While there are a lot of signs warning people to stay out of the water in the parking lot, 22News didn’t see any on the shores where people actually go to swim.

And that concerned some residents that 22News spoke to. Especially one woman who didn’t see the signs in the parking lot and swam in the water on Saturday.

“Not everyone has a car so you can’t always count on people seeing the signs in the parking lot. Now I run the chance of being sick because it looks like someone didn’t do their job very well,” Cheshire resident, Jody Noel told 22News.

Chief toxicologist for Massachusett’s Department of Public Health told 22News that the algae blooms are more common during the recent hot and stormy weather.

The algae blooms are frequently blue or green but can also be brown or red. Blooms can resemble pea soup or thick paint. Also they may have a bad odor or taste.

Public health officials urge people not to swim, boat, fish, paddle or even let their dog near where the water may be contaminated.

Officials said if your dog does come into contact with the water rise them off with fresh water. If you believe your pet is experiencing side effects from the algae, bring them to the vet.

Officials will be retesting the water early next week.

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