Crystal Lake patrons will have to find a different way to cool off this weekend, as the lake will remain closed into next week -- and perhaps even longer.
Newton's Health and Human Services Director Linda Walsh told Newton Patch Friday morning that another test will be done Monday to check the algae and toxin levels in the lake.
According to Walsh, results from the water samples taken on a Monday typically come back from the Mass. Department of Public Health by late Tuesday or early Wednesday. Once the results come back next week, the city will decide whether to reopen the lake or keep it closed.
If the algae levels are still high, Walsh said the city will keep the lake closed and continue testing water on a weekly basis.
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The standard "threshold" for cynobacteria (blue-green algae) levels in a lake is set at 70,000 cells per milliliter, Walsh said, and anything above that could pose a danger to swimmers and pets. The Crystal Lake algae test came back last week with a count of 133,000 cells per milliliter.
"It was a no-brainer [to close the lake]," Walsh said.
The Mass. Department of Public Health also checks the water for toxins, which are created when the algae begins to break down. The test for Crystal Lake did not show any toxins in the water, with the count at less than one cell per milliliter.
Nevertheless, with water checks only being done once a week, Walsh said the lake has to remain closed as a safety measure in case the algae starts to break down.
"It's enough to take a precaution," Walsh said. "If the toxins get into the water, we may not know until that weekly test. It's good to be prepared."
Walsh said the algae blooms in the warm weather and only begins to dissipate if the temperatures start to dip. Typically, algae problems develop in the warm weeks of late August and clear once the evenings cool off in September.
But with consistent warm weather this spring and summer, and forecasters predicting warm and humid weather for few days, it may be a while before the Crystal Lake algae count is low enough to reopen the lake.
"I don't see [the algae levels] going down any time soon with the way things have been," Walsh said.
Walsh assured residents that those who swam in the lake recently will likely be fine, as the algae should only act as an irritant to skin or eyes. Pets should also stay out of the water, she said, as they could ingest algae and become sick after licking their fur.
As a precaution, the Newton Health and Human Services Department has faxed information about algae levels to local veterinarians, Walsh said.
Stay tuned to Newton Patch for updates on the lake's open status.
For more information on blue-green algae, check out the .pdf in the media section above.