The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) are lifting the public health advisories on Mashapaug Pond and the Roger Williams Park ponds in Providence; Melville Pond, Sisson Pond, St. Mary's Pond, and Lawton Valley Reservoir in Portsmouth; Paradise Pond in Middletown; and Watson Reservoir in Little Compton.
These advisories were put in place in July, August, and September because of the presence of blooms of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria.
Contact with and recreational activities at Mashapaug Pond, the Roger Williams Park ponds, and Melville Pond may now be resumed. Since Rhode Island law prohibits people and animals from swimming and bathing in ponds that are drinking water sources, those activities are not allowed in Sisson Pond, St. Mary's Pond, Lawton Valley Reservoir, Paradise Pond, and Watson Reservoir, which are owned and operated by Newport Water. In addition, Newport Water prohibits fishing, swimming, and boating in these reservoirs, as posted. The treated water that Newport Water distributes to homes continues to be safe to drink.
The public is reminded to avoid contact with any body of water in Rhode Island that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible. Although blooms are most common in the summer and fall, they can take place at any time of the year.
People who experience the symptoms associated with cyanobacteria exposure and who have been swimming or fishing in water, or drinking untreated water from a waterbody with a confirmed or suspected cyanobacteria bloom, should contact their healthcare providers.
Contact with water containing cyanobacteria can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Ingestion of water containing cyanobacterial toxins can cause stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.
People who come into contact with potentially affected waters should rinse their skin and wash their clothes with clean water as soon as possible. People observing pets exhibiting adverse health symptoms after contact with potentially affected waters should contact their veterinarians. Pets who have come in contact with potentially affected waters should not be allowed to lick water off their fur and should be rinsed with clean water as soon as possible. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 orDEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.