Lake Carmel Woes Drag on in Summer Heat
By Elena Castriota – Lake Carmel has a big problem and it goes by the name of blue-green algae. During a July 21 Town of Kent board meeting, officials discussed the algae-infested state of Lake Carmel that currently has every Lake Carmel beach closed in town. Many residents attended along with the lake’s lifeguards to voice their concerns with how the town board plans to handle the lake in both the short and long term.
As a result of runoff from septic tanks, heaters, fertilizers, animal waste, and other phosphate rich pollutants, blue-green algae blooms have made its home in Lake Carmel. When humans and dogs come in contact with the algae, it can cause skin irritations and gastrointestinal problems, according to officials. The algae can be tricky to deal with is it is only dangerous when it blooms, which can be unpredictable. This means that the lake can be swimmable one day and the next it must be closed.
In order to save the rest of the beach season, the town accepted the bid of a LIFE, a company from Dutchess County that would apply copper sulfate to the lake to handle the algae blooms as a short-term solution, pending Department of Environmental Protection approval.
If the lake is treated with copper sulfate, the algae will die and the lake will be open for swimming for the rest of the summer after treatment. While it will kill these algae blooms, it will not prevent future outbreaks or fix the overall ecosystem of the lake. If the board chose a long-term plan, the lake could remain closed for much of the remainder of the season. The benefit of a long-term plan is that it will be designed to fix the ecosystem more permanently rather than eliminating undesirable algae for a single season. According to the board, the DEC ultimately has the final decision.
Jack Mosel, a Carmel resident who works for Lake Savers LLC, has provided a long-term option. He has offered a free proposal through his organization on how the town should go about fixing the lake in a natural way. He is opposed to the chemical addition of copper sulfate to the lake. “If we’re willing to accept that there’s a problem with water, why in the world are we also willing to accept that there is a solution – not a Band-Aid or a mitigation,” he said.
Three beaches were closed as recently as Saturday, while one beach has been closed since July 13, according to Putnam’s Department of Health.
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