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Worcester’s Indian Lake inundated with blooming algae

Indian Lake, also known as North Lake, sits in northern Worcester by Assumption College. Once a summer favorite for fishing, swimming, and lounging, the lake has been struggling with blooms of toxic blue-green algae for the past few years.

In 2014, the lake was closed in early July and stayed closed for the remainder of the summer, as fertilizer runoff caused an unusually persistent algae bloom. In 2015, by June, the lake had already been closed for 2 days. At this point, locals were angry they couldn’t enjoy their summer by the lake, yet again. A youth corps program was organized to go door-to-door to educate homeowners regarding the lake and how to keep it clean and healthy.

Another threat to the lake’s health is excessive goose poop. The city organized a “geese-addling program,” which replaced goose eggs with fake eggs to prevent geese from excessive reproduction. The program aimed to limit bacteria, heat contributions, and excess nutrients from goose waste. The lake was closed again in August of that year for preventative algae treatment  of aluminum sulfate. The total cost for algae treatments in 2015 hit $30,000.

In 2017, Indian lake wasn’t closed due to a harmful algal bloom. However, it was closed for a day for preventative treatment. So far in 2018, Indian lake has again been closed for a day for more algae treatment.

The lake avoided a harmful algae bloom due the combination of three actions: education on how to reduce nutrient pollution into the lake, decreasing the number geese pooping around the lake, and treatments with aluminum sulfate. Ultimately, the permanent solution is limiting fertilizer, preventing lawn runoff, and managing the geese population.

This blog post was researched and written by Dorothy Cooperson Vieweg, ORI Summer Intern, with some assistance from others.

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