Harmful Bacteria Found in Maine’s Damariscotta Lake

Damariscotta Lake State Park features a long swimming beach.

Water samples taken from Maine’s Damariscotta Lake in early August have revealed the presence of oscillatoria, a type of cyanobacteria that has the potential to produce neurotoxins that can be dangerous or fatal to humans, pets, and wildlife. The lake remains to boating and fishing, but the public has been warned not to allow pets to drink the water and to shower after swimming in the lake.

The appearance of the harmful bacteria may have been caused in part by warmer temperatures, which lead to lower dissolved oxygen in the lake water. This in turn can cause phosphorus bound up in sediments to be released into the water column. The mineral then fuels blooms of the bacteria.

Damariscotta, which is home to a summer camp and a state park, is now included in Countway’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCOR)-funded study specifically on cyanobacteria in New England lakes.