Project Description

Brief Project Description:  The presence of cyanobacteria in public drinking water supplies is an emerging issue in New England and elsewhere.  Cyanobacteria are microscopic bacteria, also known as blue-green algae, which are found naturally in low numbers in all water bodies, including public drinking water reservoirs.  When certain conditions are present, cyanobacteria may reproduce rapidly, forming blooms.  These blooms can create an unpleasant taste and odor in the consumer’s drinking water.  In addition, certain cyanobacteria cells may contain toxins that can be harmful to public health. Cyanobacteria blooms are a concern at public drinking water reservoirs, river intakes, and tributaries. MassDEP is conducting outreach and training to Massachusetts public water suppliers on addressing cyanobacteria in their Emergency Response Plans pursuant to the Massachusetts Drinking Water Regulations, 310 CMR 22.00.  A fact sheet, emergency response template, and guidance are being developed. Cyanobacteria can also impact public drinking wells under the influence of surface water.  In this project, the students are investigating how other states address cyanobacteria contamination of public wells and are developing recommendations for next steps to manage this emerging problem in Massachusetts, including public education, monitoring, and regulation.

Example of a cyanobacteria bloom