Burlington, VT — All Burlington beaches were closed down on Sunday after the Department of Parks and Recreation spotted cyanobacteria blooming. Burlington Parks and Recreation test the water daily at all public beaches for cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae. Staff and volunteers also monitor the water throughout the day.

Sunday marked the second closure this summer, following a single beach shutdown on July 13. “The first one was spotted at Texaco by staff – it’s visual, so we’re trained to know what to look for,” said Erin Moreau, Waterfront Superintendent, and Harbormaster. “As soon as we saw it, we closed down the beach. You know, we’re really conservative with this — if we see it, we close it.”

According to Moreau, the second week of July is usually when they start to see cyanobacteria blooms. Lori Fisher, the Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Committee said that not all types of cyanobacteria give off cyano-toxins, which is what makes the blooms harmful.

“Cyanobacteria are microorganisms, they’re native, they’ve existed for eons, they predate human life,” said Fisher. “When we worry about them is when they get out of hand, when they all come together, triggered often by too many nutrients and warm weather, and form a bloom.”

Fisher says the lake conditions are highly variable as one beach could have a full bloom of cyanobacteria, while another beach could have pristine swimming conditions. “We recommend that if you think that you were in the water and there were cyanobacteria present, go home and shower to get it off the skin,” said Fisher. “We also know it’s really harmful to dogs. Pets and little kids are more vulnerable than your average adult, mainly because of their small body size.”

The LCC produces a weekly newsletter to share their reports and teach about cyanobacteria and offers educational sessions on how to protect yourself. “We want to teach people how to recognize and avoid cyanobacteria, so we can all keep each other safe,” said Fisher.

At this time, all beaches are back open. The Burlington Parks and Recreation Department updates their website daily to let people know which beaches are open or closed, and to keep track of where they find cyanobacteria.