Coastal Health Tool Kit

Help protect Barnstable water resources

Cyanobacteria update 7-26-17

(These observations are based on our inspection of high risk Barnstable ponds with public or semi-public beaches.)

 

Advisory:

 

Lovells, Marston Mills

 

Long Pond, Centerville

 

 

Warning:

 

No-Bottom, Cotuit

 

Schoolhouse, Hyannis-port

 

 

 

Closures:

 

none

 

Definitions:

Advisory: Toxic algae is present, but has not collected into a film on the surface. Pond shows slight discoloration. Can easily see through water. Low to minimal health risks to people, higher risks for pets.

Warning: Toxic algae has started to collect and form a film on the surface. Pond shows slight to moderate discoloration. Can see through water, but water is cloudy. Low to moderate health risks for people, higher risks for pets.

 

Closure: Toxic algae has collected and formed a thick film on the surface (looks like soup or paint). Pond shows extreme discoloration. Cannot see through water at all. Moderate to severe health risks for people, higher risks for pets

Animal Safety Alert
CYANOBACTERIA BLOOMS

When in doubt, it’s best to keep out!

Animal Safety Alert
CYANOBACTERIA BLOOMS

When in doubt, it’s best to keep out!
What is a cyanobacteria bloom?
Cyanobacteria, sometimes called blue-green algae, are microscopic organisms found naturally in all types of water.
• Cyanobacteria grow quickly, or bloom, when the water is warm, stagnant, and full of nutrients.
• Cyanobacteria blooms usually occur during the summer and fall. However, they can occur anytime during the year.
• When a bloom occurs, scum might foat on the water’s surface.
• Blooms come in diferent colors, from green or blue to red or brown.
• As the bloom dies of, you may smell an odor like rotting plants.
What is a toxic bloom?
Sometimes, cyanobacteria produce toxins.
• The toxins can be present in the cyanobacteria cells or in the water.
• Swallowing water with cyanobacteria that are producing toxins can cause serious illness.
Health and Safety Tips for Pets and Livestock
• Do not let your pets or livestock graze near, drink, or swim in water where you see cyanobacteria blooms, foam, or scum on the surface.
• If your animal gets in water with a bloom, immediately wash it of with clean water. Do not let the animal lick cyanobacteria of of its fur.
• Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any of these symptoms of cyanobacteria poisoning: loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, stumbling and falling, foaming at the mouth, diarrhea, convulsions, excessive drooling, tremors
• and seizures, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water.
You can help protect your pets and livestock from cyanobacteria blooms by taking the following actions:
•Visit https://www.cdc.gov/habs/general.html to learn more about cyanobacteria.
• Know what a bloom looks like and avoid contact.
• Keep pets and livestock away from the water if you see signs of cyanobacteria.
• Call your veterinarian if your animals are sick.
• Call your state or local health department to report pets or livestock made sick by cyanobacteria.
To report a cyanobacteria bloom or a related health event:
• Call your local or state health department
You cannot tell if a bloom is toxic just by looking at it!
WHAT IS A CYANOBACTERIA BLOOM?
Cyanobacteria, sometimes called blue-green algae, are microscopic organisms found naturally in all types of water.
• Cyanobacteria grow quickly, or bloom, when the water is warm, stagnant, and full of nutrients.
• Cyanobacteria blooms usually occur during the summer and fall. However, they can occur anytime during the year.
• When a bloom occurs, scum might float on the water’s surface.
• Blooms come in different colors, from green or blue to red or brown.
• As the bloom dies of, you may smell an odor like rotting plants.
 
WHAT IS A TOXIC BLOOM?
Sometimes, cyanobacteria produce toxins.
• The toxins can be present in the cyanobacteria cells or in the water.
• Swallowing water with cyanobacteria that are producing toxins can cause serious illness.
Health and Safety Tips for Pets and Livestock
• Do not let your pets or livestock graze near, drink, or swim in water where you see cyanobacteria blooms, foam, or scum on the surface.
• If your animal gets in water with a bloom, immediately wash it of with clean water. Do not let the animal lick cyanobacteria of of its fur.
• Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any of these symptoms of cyanobacteria poisoning: loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, stumbling and falling, foaming at the mouth, diarrhea, convulsions, excessive drooling, tremors and seizures, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water.
 
You can help protect your pets and livestock from cyanobacteria blooms by taking the following actions:
•Visit https://www.cdc.gov/habs/general.html to learn more about cyanobacteria.
• Know what a bloom looks like and avoid contact.
• Keep pets and livestock away from the water if you see signs of cyanobacteria.
• Call your veterinarian if your animals are sick.
• Call your state or local health department to report pets or livestock made sick by cyanobacteria.

To report a cyanobacteria bloom or a related health event:
• Call your local or state health department 508-862-4641

 
You cannot tell if a bloom is toxic just by looking at it!

SIMPLE THINGS INDIVIDUALS CAN DO TO PROTECT OUR WATER

 

START WITH THE 3R'S :

 

1) REDUCE POLLUTANTS IN YOUR WASTE

     - DISPOSE OF MEDICATIONS AND HAZARDOUS MATERIALS PROPERLY-

                 Toxins and unwanted pharmaceutical should not go down the drain

      -MAINTAIN A HEALTHY SEPTIC SYSTEM

 

2) RECONSIDER LAWN AND GARDEN PRACTICES

    -DECREASE, OR ELIMINATE FERTILIZERS AND PESTICIDES

     -PLANT NATIVE SPECIES

   - CREATE RAIN OR BUFFER STRIPS TO REDIRECT STORM WATER FROM STORM DRAINS AND WATERWAYS  

 

3) RAISE YOUR VOICE TO PROTECT OPEN SPACE

 

New Fertilizer Ordinance

(Chp. 78 Fertilizer Nitrogen and Phosphorus Control)
 
Key points for Barnstable:
 
Best Management Practices (BMP) for Non-Certified applicators:
 
* Do not apply fertilizer during, or prior to heavy rain
* No fertilizers should be applied between November 12 -  March 31
* Do not spill, or deposit fertilizer on impervious surfaces
* Do not fertilize closer than 100 feet to any water-body, or near public drinking water wells
* No phosphorus in fertilizer unless you have a soil test, or you are establishing new turf
* A single application of fertilizer that contains nitrogen shall not exceed one pound of actual nitrogen per 1000 square feet, and shall contain at least 20% slow-release nitrogen fertilizer
* Single applications shall be done at intervals of 4 weeks
* Deposits of grass clippings, leaves or any other vegetive debris should not be deposited into or within 50 feet of water bodies, retention and dention areas, drainage ditches or storm water drains, or impervious surfaces
 
Here is the full text of the regulation:
 
Posters in retail stores will read:
 
PHOSPHORUS RUNOFF POSES A THREAT TO WATER QUALITY. THEREFORE, UNDER GL Ch. 128 SEC. 65A, PHOSPHORUS CONTAINING FERTILIZER MAY ONLY BE APPLIED TO LAWN OR NON-AGRICULTURAL TURF WHEN (i) a soil test indicates that additional phosphorus is needed for the growth of that lawn or non-agricultural turf; or ii) it is used for newly established lawn or non-agricultural turf during the first growing season.
 
 
County Brochure:
 
Here is information about Certification through the County Extension:
 

Septic Systems

Keep your septic system working properly. The State of Massachusetts recommends pumping every 3 years. 

 ( For guide click here Septic Systems )

When to pump

Estimated Number of Years Between Septic Tank Pumpings

Note: More frequent pumping is needed if a garbage disposal is used. Source: Adapted from Karen Mancl, Septic Tank Maintenance, Publication AEX-740, Ohio Cooperative Extension Service, 1988. 

                                                     Number of People in your Household

 Size of Tank (Gallons)

  1

 person

 2

 people

 3

 people

 4

people

 5

people

 6

 people

 500 6 yrs. 3 yrs. 2 yrs. 1 yrs. 1 yrs. X
 1,000 12 yrs. 6 yrs. 4 yrs. 3 yrs. 2 yrs. 2 yrs.
 1,500 19 yrs. 9 yrs. 6 yrs. 4 yrs. 3 yrs. 3 yrs.
 2,000 25 yrs. 12 yrs. 8 yrs. 6 yrs. 5 yrs.

 4 yrs.

Reduce Pollution-Greenscape

Try limiting, or eliminating your lawn and replace it with native plantings. 

Cape Cod soils limit turf growth and make maintaining a lush green lawn expensive, while creating a pollution source.  Instead of a lawn, you can have a beautiful native garden that saves time and money, increases your property values, and protects your drinking water.

Greenscapes web site -  http://www.greenscapes.org/

Greenscaping is a compliation of landscape practices that drastically reduce water usage and encourage groundwater recharge, protect our water supply and reduce stormwater pollution

Property owners and businesses can reduce your contribution to water pollution and save money by cutting back on the need for irrigation water ( drinking water), using native plant as filters in buffers and rain gardens, and significantly reducing toxic chemical and nutrients from entering ground water.  Click here for  greenscape presentation or guide

New APCC video- Great explanation of septic systems impact on ground water and estuaries

10 Ways to Reduce Water Pollution

 

1) Dispose of unused medications by mixing them in a plastic bag with coffee grounds, cat litter or liquid soap and putting them in the trash- no flushing! (see guide and video on Unwanted Meds page)
 
2) Take care of your septic system.  Make sure it is working properly and pumped regularly (MA State recommend every 3-5 years)
 
3) Dispose of animal waste in a pet dooley (Pet waste digester) or in the toilet.  Pick up your pet’s waste, but use plastic bags as a last resort….enough plastic is in our waste stream already.
 
4) Do not feed waterfowl or sea birds- even indirectly from your trash (People, dogs and seagulls are the major causes of closed shellfish beds and beaches)
 
5) Avoid fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides….prioritize healthy drinking water over the perfect lawn
 
6) Infiltrate rainwater from impervious surfaces: Rain barrels are great!
 
7) Plant Buffer zones near water resource areas- allow for uptake of pollutants by plants.
 
8) Drive less, whenever possible and maintain your car to avoid spills.
 
9) Visit pumpout facilities; do not dump boat waste in waterways
 
10) Dispose of any hazardous materials at collection days at local recycle centers.

New EPA Nutrient pollution website

Governor Signs Bill to Limit Phosphorus in Fertilizers

A bill signed into law recently by Governor Patrick will help to reduce the amount of phosphorus in fertilizers, and ultimately result in healthier rivers, ponds and coastal embayments. The new law requires the Department of Agricultural Resources, with MassDEP's assistance, to promulgate regulations by Jan. 1, 2014 that will limit the amount of nutrient pollution, mainly phosphorus from fertilizers.

The problem occurs when fertilizers are placed on lawns and other parcels. When it rains or when the snow melts, the runoff picks up pollutants as it travels across the land. Eventually, this stormwater runoff is carried into the nearest body of water. There, nutrients help to produce algae, contributing to problematic algae blooms and the declining health of lakes, rivers and bays.

The U.S. EPA has ordered municipalities, treatment plants, businesses and other wastewater producers to cut the amount of phosphorus being discharged in stormwater. The EPA is expected to issue more stringent permits that will require communities to cut their phosphorus discharges by up to 55 percent. This could result in cities and towns being required to build stormwater treatment facilities that could cost millions of dollars. The reduction of phosphorus in fertilizers sold in Massachusetts will help to address the problem, reducing the pollution in runoff waters, and lessening the need for expensive treatment works.

Runoff Ramblings: I Flush, Therefore I Waste

 

by David Hirschman and Karen Cappiella-

Center for Watershed Protection | 8390 Main Street, 2nd floor | Ellicott City | MD | 21043

 

Last year, the Rambler explored the topic of the integration, or lack thereof, of the water supply, wastewater and stormwater management sectors and their disconnection from the watershed scale (Water Supply, Wastewater & Stormwater: Are These Cousins Kissing or Feuding?). In the Fall 2011 issue of Runoff Rundown, we continue on this thread by focusing on a specific question related to this potential integration: could we be using our potable water more efficiently, and how would that make our jobs as watershed, stormwater, and utility managers different, easier, and/or more effective?

 

The short answer to the first part of this question is (or certainly should be) YES! It takes a lot of technical know-how, sophistication, and money to collect, treat, store, and distribute potable water supplies. Yet, we tend to actually drink a very small proportion of that painstakingly supplied water.  

 

What do we do with nearly 60% of the precious potable supply delivered to our homes? We spray it outdoors to keep our lawns green and landscapes growing, accounting for more than 7 billion gallons per day collectively. Of the remaining 40% or so that we DO use indoors, over one-quarter of the supply is used TO FLUSH TOILETS and an additional one-fifth TO WASH CLOTHES! In fact, just over 17% of indoor use is used at the faucet or dishwasher. If you throw in baths and showers, it brings the percentage of indoor use to just over 35%. See the following graphic from Mayer et al. (1999) for a nice pie-chart break-down.

 

 wateruse

 

In the energy and water supply fields, there is lot made out of the difference between "conservation" and "efficiency." Conservation implies some sense of doing without or sacrifice, while efficiency implies getting the same level of output by using fewer resources as inputs. Both conservation and efficiency are critical elements for managing water supplies. However, our water infrastructure was largely constructed during an era where our cities were growing and water availability was not a limiting factor. Therefore, it made a lot of sense to construct one-size-fits-all infrastructure to collect, treat, and store water, and distribute it to individual homes and businesses for whatever purposes they deemed fit. Now that we have inherited this type of infrastructure, it would be a very slow, incremental, and expensive prospect to separate out water systems for potable versus non-potable uses, and thus create a vastly more efficient system.

 

While that may seem a bit far-fetched, it becomes less so when we consider expanding our drinking water supplies. The next increment of supply is bound to be harder to find, more expensive, more difficult to protect, and more environmentally-damaging, and we may have to fight our neighbors (or neighboring cities or states) over it, not to mention face the vagaries of permitting and a complex regulatory framework.

 

While infrastructure separation would also be costly, it could be done incrementally as part of much needed infrastructure upgrades that - according to a new report from Green For All in partnership with American Rivers, Pacific Institute, and the Economic Policy Institute -- would inject a quarter of a trillion dollars into the economy, create nearly 1.3 million direct and indirect jobs and result in 568,000 additional jobs from increased spending.

 

Maybe it makes more sense to start now with incremental separation of potable and non-potable water infrastructure. An important assumption of this "pipe dream" is that other, cheaper supplies would be available and could be harnessed to satisfy the non-potable fraction of overall usage. Candidate technologies include harvested rainwater and reclaimed or recycled water (e.g., treated wastewater), not to mention continuing to enhance the efficiency of water-using appliances and equipment. Many parts of the country have already started down this path due to constraints on existing water supplies in the face of population growth.

 

This brings us back to the connection between watershed and utility managers. If our potable and non-potable supplies continue to be blended together (and most of the supply is for non-potable purposes), then we will continue to expend enormous energy and resources protecting, collecting, and treating source water that isn't going to be used for drinking. In terms of alternatives, we cannot "rain barrel" our way out of this particular dilemma, but it certainly is an issue that should stimulate the creative juices of the next generation of watershed and drinking water managers. How can we use potable water supplies more efficiently by retooling our infrastructure at the scales of the municipality, neighborhood, and individual home or business? How can watershed and stormwater managers and their counterparts in the utility sector contribute in constructive ways to guide us towards that future? Let us know your thoughts and ideas on this topic.  Email us at rambler@cwp.org.

Need More ??

Please send questions and 
requests for hard copies to:
karen.malkus
@town.barnstable.ma.us

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