Burlington beaches reopen following closures forced by blue-green algae

Published: Jun. 26, 2023 at 6:29 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Beaches in Burlington reopened Monday after being closed by blue-green algae Sunday.

Hot summer temperatures and heavy rainfall as we saw on Saturday can trigger the algae, also known as cyanobacteria.

People and pets can get sick, so experts say to avoid the water when it has blue-green algae.

For years, cyanobacteria have been an ongoing issue at Burlington’s beaches.

“It’s just a buildup of sediment that cyanobacteria like to feed on within the lake. It’s, you know, it just it builds up to the point where the cyanobacteria start feeding and then they bloom,” said Alec Kaeding of Burlington Parks, Recreation and Waterfront.

Burlington Parks and Rec staff regularly check the water at beaches. But some people are annoyed when they are unexpectedly closed.

“I didn’t know there was a problem until the last couple, three years that I’ve been coming here to the beach lately. So yeah, and the beaches have been closed several times like other beaches around the area, and it’s been very inconvenient,” said Lisa Allen, a beach-goer.

Parks and Rec staffers test the water when they see blue-green algae.

“My staff is constantly checking the beaches in the water. And as soon as we see it, we close the beach, pull everybody out of the water and then we go through the process of submitting it to the state through the cyanobacteria monitoring website,” Kaeding said.

They also test twice a week for unsafe E. coli levels.

But some people aren’t surprised when this happens.

“It’s kind of nasty but when it rains a lot we get it here,” said Kevin Allen, a beach-goer.

The city says it does as much as possible to make sure the public is safe.

“Once we see it, we have to keep it closed until the next morning. And then around 10:30-11, we start checking the waters. First, we do a visual check. And if we see that it’s clear, we do an Abraxis test strip to verify that there are no toxins in the water. And once the test strip comes back clear, then we open the beaches again,” Kaeding explained.

Those tests came back clear midday on Monday and the beaches were back open.

Click here to check the status of Burlington beaches.

Related Story:

Cyanobacteria blooms close all Burlington beaches