Sunday, July 8, 2012
Bowne Park pond turns toxic
From the Queens Chronicle:
Area resident Sharon Wohlgemuth and her friends noticed the red-colored algae around June 13 and called 311. It took over the pond and emitted a foul odor. “I come here everyday,” Wohlgemuth said. “I visit with friends, walk and read. Nothing like this ever happened here before.”
She called state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who reached out to the Parks Department. When contacted by the Queens Chronicle, the agency sent the following statement: “After noticing the presence of red algae in the Bowne Park pond, we consulted with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to advise on a course of treatment. A NYS DEC biologist and environmental engineer visited the site and recommended flushing the system with fresh, cool water. We have been following these recommendations and will continue to monitor the site. In addition, our plumbers will soon make repairs to the pond’s aeration system.”
But James Cervino, a marine biologist and environmental chairman of Community Board 7, said he was very concerned about the condition. “Red algae can be toxic and dangerous to humans and animals,” Cervino said. “I need to know more specifics like what the species is and other technical data.”
DEC officials said Tuesday the state Department of Health has not completed its testings, but warned residents there may be some toxicity associated with it. “The state DOH would like to advise the public to avoid direct contact with the bloom,” officials said.
Cervino, who is also affiliated with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, said it is probably one of two species of red algae that can cause liver damage or paralysis in severe cases.
He indicated the red algae condition is caused by excessive nutrients in the water, low oxygen, high temperatures and lack of water circulation. “As the algae grows, it produces a toxin to kill each other off,” he added. “Parks needs to clean out the pond.”
The marine biologist, who said he is “very passionate” about the topic, said it’s necessary to stop the source of pollution, which is probably a combination of sewage, plant nutrients and animal waste.