A blue-green algae bloom, also known as cyanobacteria, has been identified at the Newark Reservoir and will impact the Top of Delaware Triathlon, hosted by Piranha Sports, scheduled for this Sunday, August 20. The bloom has no direct impact on the City's drinking water supply, but recent lab results indicate the bloom is at levels where recreational activities in the water must be suspended.
"Blue-green algae thrives off nutrients in the water, which are introduced via stormwater runoff throughout the watershed," said acting city manager Tom Coleman. "Unfortunately there is no easy way to prevent a bloom from occurring nor predict when a bloom may occur."
Registrants who signed up for the triathlon will be able to participate in the duathlon event, which follows a run (1.5 miles), bike (11.4 miles), run (2.6 miles) format. The schedule for that event will follow the original itinerary:
"We are disappointed the triathlon needs to be changed to a duathlon, but the safety and well-being of our participants is our primary concern," said Piranha Sports founder, CEO and race director Neil Semmel. "The duathlon course is a challenging, yet rewarding alternative and we hope those who registered for the triathlon will still join us for the event and participate in that course instead."
Such algae blooms occur in warm/still freshwater ponds and lakes, and can last for a few days to several months, depending on the weather temperature. They generally appear between June and October and dissipate with a cold spell in the weather, which decreases the water temperature. Long-term, preventive measures include nutrient management plans for commercial and agriculture industries and education of homeowners of proper fertilization and yard maintenance practices. Corrective measures include aeration, mixing, and filtering, which are already in place.
The bloom has no environmental impact on visitors utilizing the reservoir, however pet owners are reminded to keep animals out of the wetlands moat encircling the reservoir, as the algae levels may be harmful if ingested. The City will continue to visually monitor the bloom and send water samples out for lab testing until it dissipates completely.
Additional information regarding blue-green algae in Delaware freshwaters and measures to control and treat blooms is available through the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Environmental Protection Agency.