Saturday, September 09, 2006

Algae bloom and the DCR

1. Marilyn Wellons reports, 9/9/06.
2. Prior Marilyn report with details, 9/9/06.
3. Chris responds, 9/9/06.

1. Marilyn Wellons reports.

Today's Globe has a small article on p. B4, "Charles swim canceled."

The DCR has canceled the first annual Charles River Swim set for today because of the algae bloom. From the article:

"Last month levels of the toxic algae, called microcystis, exploded to levels never before seen in the Charles. Although the concentration dissipated to just below what the World Health Organization considers an acceptable level, DCR officials said yesterday the counts have inched upward. They refused to issue a permit for the race."

We've heard nothing about the relation of this unprecedented algae bloom to the installation of six acres of fertilizer- and herbicide-treated sod this past spring at the new "Teddy Ebersol's Red Sox Fields at Lederman Park" and the application of "Tartan" (a fungicide stable in water and toxic to fresh water fish and invertebrates) to the same six acres of sod just before the algae bloomed. These Little League fields are immediately adjacent to the site of the bloom.

I've seen nothing in the newspapers about any public health officials' investigation of the cause of the algae bloom. The original report in the Globe said fertilizer runoff causes such things.

We are sure to hear no reports of this sort from the DCR, the proud agency responsible for installing the sod for Little League fields so close to the Charles.

Little League ball is not, after all, a "water-dependent activity." The DCR's much-vaunted Master Plan for the Charles wants to eliminate all "non-water-dependent" activities like skating rinks, swimming pools, and veterans' organizations from the river.

However, the DCR seems to have made quite an exception for the "Teddy Ebersol's Red Sox Fields at Lederman Park." We should hear from the DCR why this new, "non-water-dependent" facility was allowed so close to the river. Its grass will continue to need repeated applications of fertilizer and herbicides to maintain "the quality of turf our players deserve," as the DCR's representative told the Boston ConCom this summer. The counts will probably inch upward with runoff from the fields after every rain as long as the warm weather lasts.

The DCR may have denied the permit for the Charles River Swim, but they certainly didn't deny the permit for the "Teddy Ebersol's Red Sox Little League Fields at Lederman Park."

Marilyn Wellons

2. Prior Marilyn report with details, 9/9/06.

Please note Marilyn's prior report, 8/16/06, updated 8/31/06, entitled Department of Conservation and Recreation Poisoning the Charles River? It provides the key details of the poisoning.

Bob La Trémouille

3. Chris responds, 9/9/06.

I row everyday and its pretty nasty how much algae there is on the Charles... for animal species and humans. It's abnormal and any rhetoric flitting that the charles river is clean and/or cleaner than it has been is rubbish.

The algal bloom represents high temps., off-set water chemistry, and low oxygen levels.

I would not wish to be a fish right now... It's like trying to breathe in Mexico City.