Why Somerville’s Mystic River Is Turning Green

Photo by Frank Santangelo 

If you have been around the Mystic River or the yacht clubs in the last few days you may have noticed the color of the river water has changed to a greenish blue color. The reason for this according to Patrick Heron ( Biologist and Director of the Mystic River Watershed Association) is that due to the high level of invasive plant harvesting accompanied by herbicide spraying has resulted in a great release of nutrients from the plants. Because there has been little rain and very slow movement of the river in normal circumstances we would never have noticed this. The underlying problem that now exists is the nutrients create a “cynobacteria.” It generally is not harmful to humans however it probably would not be a good idea to have direct contact with the water because it is a form of bacteria. This can be very dangerous to pets that drink and ingest the river water. Swimming in this type of bacteria can also be harmful. The Health Bureau has been notified and should be posting warning signs about the problem.

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