Two weeks after the city closed Crystal Lake due to a blue-green algae bloom, Newton officials have decided to officially close the lake for the remainder of the summer season.
According to a press release issued by the city, the Mass. Department of Public Health will require at least another week to test the lake and determine whether the water is safe for swimming. However, the testing would not be done before August 19, which is when the lake is scheduled to close for the season.
The city initially closed the lake on Monday, July 30 when algae levels in the lake appeared high. After test results came back from the state on August 1, the city decided to keep the lake closed until further notice.
At the time, Health and Human Services Director Linda Walsh told Newton Patch the algae count for the lake came back at 130,000 cells per milliliter, more than 60,000 cells above the healthy level for swimming.
Last week, the Mass. DPH conducted another test of the water, with the algae counts still too high to open the lake.
Although an algae bloom is not unusual for Crystal Lake, this year's bloom occurred earlier than usual due to the mild winter, warm spring and hot summer. As blue-green algae breaks down it can form toxins that are dangerous to both humans and pets.
In addition, water visibility at Crystal Lake is currently less than one foot, officials said.
A working group of city employees and residents is meeting to discuss possible approaches to preserving Crystal Lake and reducing algae problems for future seasons, the press release said.
As a result of the lake closure, the city is offering credits and refunds to those who signed up for swimming lessons at Crystal Lake.
In addition, swim times will be extended at Gath Pool to the following hours:
- Swim lessons: 9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
- Camp: 11:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
- Adult only swim: 12:15 p.m. - 1 p.m.
- General swim: 1 p.m. to dusk
August 18 - Sept. 2
- General swim from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Labor Day: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Last week, Mass. DPH also issued an algae advisory for parts of the Charles River, including areas in Newton.
More information from the city is included in the press release below:
As of today, the Departments of Health and Human Services and Parks and Recreation are officially announcing the close of swimming at Crystal Lake for the season. As most residents know, the lake has experienced an early algae bloom this year with levels of blue-green algae above the State limits. Despite some decrease in counts according to testing performed by the State on a weekly basis, the levels have not been reduced to a number safe for swimming. This week’s tests were performed yesterday with results due on Wednesday or Thursday. If this week’s levels are adequate, the State still requires a second consecutive week of testing with good numbers before swimming could resume. Next Monday’s test results would be available on Wednesday or Thursday of next week, which extends beyond the scheduled closing date for the season.
Crystal Lake has an algae bloom yearly although the visibility is usually adequate through the swimming season. This year the water temperature after our mild winter was at least 10 degrees higher than average at the time the lake opened for swimming and has been consistently in the 80’s for weeks. This warm water temperature also promotes the growth of the algae. Right now visibility at Crystal Lake is less than one foot, which along with potential toxicity from the blue-green algae makes swimming dangerous for people and especially pets. We hope residents will take advantage of other City swimming resources and allow Crystal Lake the time it needs to clear the algae problem. A working group of City employees and interested residents is meeting to discuss all possible approaches to preserve Crystal Lake as a resource for Newton and to reduce problems in subsequent swimming seasons. We thank everyone for your cooperation.
In addition, the Parks and Recreation Department appreciates the adaptability of its residents regarding the recent algae bloom at Crystal Lake. We have addressed our user concerns over the swim lesson program and will be providing a 50% credit (This credit will be valid for a $22.50 reduction in any parks and recreation department program for any Crystal Lake Lesson Participant registered for session 3 of the swim lessons) The Session 4 Registrations have been fully refunded in our registration system and checks are being processed.
Stay tuned to Newton Patch for more updates on this story.