Toxic algae blooms found in ponds in Providence, Portsmouth

(AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, File)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island health officials are advising people to stay clear of three ponds in Providence and a fourth in Portsmouth after toxic algae blooms were discovered.

The state Departments of Health and Environmental Management on Friday said to avoid contact with with Elm Lake, Roosevelt Lake and the Japanese Gardens at Roger Williams Park, along with St. Mary’s Pond in Portsmouth.

A blue-green algae known as cyanobacteria was found blooming in the water at all four ponds, according to officials. The DEM says you can identify algae blooms if the water looks like green paint, thick pea soup or green cottage cheese from the surface.

If you find yourself near potentially contaminated water, the DEM says to take the following precautions:

  • Do not ingest water or eat fish from the water.
  • Avoid fishing, boating and kayaking in the water.
  • Do not let pets drink or swim in water.
  • If you or your pet come in contact with the water rinse the skin clean as soon as possible.

Coming into contact with water containing blue-green algae could cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and throat, according to health officials. If the water is ingested, you may experience stomachaches, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. Rarer side effects due to ingestion are dizziness, headaches, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage.

If your pet comes into contact with contaminated water, do not let it lick algae off its fur because it will make them sick. Contact a veterinarian if you believe your pet is suffering from algae poisoning.

Officials also noted that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, call the DEM’s Office of Water Resources at (401) 222-4700.

Also on Friday, officials announced that Oakland Beach is once again safe for swimming.

Further testing this week revealed the bacteria counts to be within acceptable levels, according to the health department, so the agency recommended that the beach be reopened. Click here to see a full list of current beach closures and re-openings.