Slacks Pond Beach deemed unsafe after harmful algae discovered

Slacks Pond Beach deemed unsafe after harmful algae discovered

A photo of Slacks Pond Beach, taken only one week ago, shows residents swimming in the water now deemed unsafe. Breeze photo by JACKIE ROMAN.

SMITHFIELD – Mere weeks after reopening following a five year closure, Slacks Pond Beach is once again off limits, this time under the directives of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM).

In a public health press release sent out July 13, the government agencies warn residents to avoid contact with Slack Resevoir in Greenville, due to a blue-green algae that can produce harmful toxins, including microcystins.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, microcystins are a skin, eye, and throat irritant that can cause dry cough, nausea, and diarrhea, among other side effects.

Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with these toxins. Government agencies advise residents to avoid all recreation at the beach, including fishing, boating, kayaking, and swimming.

If contact is made with the Slack Pond Beach water, DEM and RIDOH recommend rinsing the skin with clean water, taking a shower, and washing affected clothing. The same procedure is recommended for pets who have come into contact with the water.

All residents are advised to avoid contact with water bodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese, according to RIDOH and DEM.

To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM’s Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.