Early this week, the pond committee was notified by the Easthampton Health Department of a possible cyanobacteria concern reported by a resident. In accordance with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health protocol, an image of the area was sent to the state for further inspection. Upon review, the state determined that there could be a "possible presence of cyanobacteria (algae) cells that may exceed the MDPH guidelines for recreational waterbodies in Massachusetts." The MDPH recommended posting public advisories at all access points of the ponds to notify residents that water should be avoided until further testing could be done over a two week period. Signs are now posted on both Nashawannuck Pond and Lower Mill Pond.
In August 2019 Nashawannuck Pond was closed abruptly due to a visual inspection of a possible cyanobacteria presence. While no cyanobacteria was found after subsequent testing, the action prompted the pond committee to work with city departments to develop a protocol should there be future issues. Working with the Mayor's Office, the Board of Health and the Public Works Department, the committee identified ways to 1) keep the city vigilant regarding water flow and removal of debris quickly, 2) perform expedient and appropriate tests for cyanobacteria as soon as it is suspected. Any costs for testing would be absorbed by the pond committee.
On Thursday, August 6, 2020, pond committee chair, Paul Nowak, collected the water samples from Nashawannuck Pond and drove them to Northeast Laboratories in Berlin Connecticut where they will test for the existence or nonexistence of cyanobacteria. Upon the state's recommendation, we will also pay to test for the presence of microcystins. The report will be presented to the Easthampton Health Department within a 24 turnaround. If the results are negative, a second test will be done seven days later. If both tests are within acceptable limits, the state will be notified and the ban lifted, allowing residents to enjoy the pond, and a local boat rental business return to normal operations.
For more information about Nashawannuck pond, please visit our FAQ page.
Late in the summer of 2019, the pond committee was made aware of the sudden closure of the pond in response to the possibility of a cyanobacteria bloom being present. At the time, the health department followed state protocol which was to send images of a suspected area to the state for visual inspection. This resulted in its closure and delayed reopening which affected residents and businesses from being on the pond. Subsequent water tests were negative for the bacteria.
The committee reviewed the protocol (August 28, 2019 minutes) to help create a pro-active response should this be an ongoing concern in future years. The Easthampton Board of Health has released the new protocol which allows the Nashawannuck Pond Committee to test the water for cyanobacteria before reporting a possible bloom through image identification. The cost for testing would be paid by the pond committee made possible by our ongoing fundraising efforts throughout the year.
The protocol is available on the city website and is attached below. We are pleased to work collaboratively with our city to benefit Easthampton residents and businesses who depend on continued access to our beautiful pond.