Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)

Would you like to help?
Coordinated monitoring programs (including URIWW staff and volunteers) document and help understand harmful cyanobacteria blooms. Check out cyanos.org to learn how you can get involved – including downloading the bloomWatch app

2022 Advisories:  

The warm weather often brings HABs, especially in sites that regularly experience them. For a list of 2022 advisories – see the RIDEM Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) page – http://dem.ri.gov/programs/water/quality/surface-water/cyanobacteria.php 

Older advisories can also be found using the above link, with a search tool.

The bloomWatch data dashboard shows reports of blooms submitted by app users locally, nationally and even globally – click HERE to see recent reports.

Learn more about HABs:

The fall and cooler weathert doesn’t mean that that harmful algal blooms won’t happen. Many of our lakes and ponds are also naturally (and harmlessly) more darkly stained than usual this year from all the runoff. But if the water looks unusually murky or cloudy, or has a distinctive blue-green scum on the surface that is not linked to pollen, it is worth contacting us (eherron@uri.edu) to help you figure out what is going on.

Or to report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM’s Office of Water Resources at 401-222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.

The RI DEM has a list of waterbodies for which advisories are posted on their website: http://dem.ri.gov/programs/water/quality/surface-water/cyanobacteria.php.

Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, can form harmful blooms in lakes, ponds, and rivers that make the water cloudy, sometimes even making the water look like pea soup or as if bright green paint has been spilled into the water. Under some circumstances these blooms may produce toxins that could make pets and people sick. A number of local waterbodies experience harmful algal blooms each year – we’ll post those on this page when they occur. Check out this Westerly Sun article to learn more about local efforts (click here). 

This is not just a Rhode Island problem. Check out Poisonous Algae Blooms Threaten People, Ecosystems Across U.S. a story on NPR at http://one.npr.org/i/491831451:491848138. And even New York City’s famous Central Park ponds are not immune https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/07/nyregion/beware-the-blooms-toxic-algae-found-in-some-city-ponds.html.

Not all algae float. To learn more about algal mats, check out the blog on the New England Chapter of the North American Lake Management Society (http://nec-nalms.org/index.php/2017/08/08/algae-mats/).

New study confirms that humans are responsible for increased cyanobacteria growth since 1800s…see http://www.fondriest.com/news/study-confirms-humans-responsible-for-increased-cyanobacteria-growth-since-1800s.htm for an overview.