D20 – Protecting the Public from Harmful Algal Blooms (with City of Worcester)


Project Description Project Report Executive Summary  Video & Brochure

Project Description

Our group has been tasked to work closely with the Worcester Department of Public Works & Parks to research the best practices for protecting public health from cyanobacteria and cyanobacteria toxins. We will be analyzing past Worcester cyanobacteria cell count and cyanobacteria toxin data from Indian Lake. Also, we are going to conduct interviews with HAB(Harmful Algal Bloom) researchers and scientists as well as members in the MassDEP ,Worcester DPW&P for more specific information about cyanobacteria toxins, HAB monitoring methods and advisory thresholds. Based on our interviews, research and data analysis we will be providing the Worcester DPW&P with research and recommendations on their current advisory thresholds to close the local water bodies to recreation.

Project goal and objectives

The goal of our IQP is to provide the Worcester DPW&P with research and recommendations on their current management plan to prevent premature and unnecessary closure of the local water bodies during the summer and fall seasons. The main concern is to determine if the current Worcester management methods are adequate or if they should be altered in order to keep the water bodies in Worcester open as long as possible without putting the public health at risk. We accomplished this goal by pursuing the following objectives:

1)  Understand the current procedures that the Worcester DPW&P use for monitoring their water bodies.

2)   Acquire information from research scientists and universities to better understand cyanotoxins and testing procedures for these toxins.

3)  Compare and contrast researchers’ preventive methods to current Worcester DPW&P preventive methods.

4)  Provide recommendations and alterations to the current monitoring techniques and testing procedures.

Team and Advisor

Team: Colin McNamara, Athina Katsoula, Brian Wilkinson, Michael Ilic

Advisor: Professor Paul Mathisen

Project Sponsor

Jacquelyn Burmeister,​​ Worcester DPW&P Water Operations

Project Deliverables

  • Final Report including recommendations for managing HABs in Worcester
  • Brochure for Worcester DPW&P to inform citizens on HABs
  • Video Report