This past week, visitors to Lake Gerar in Rehoboth Beach have noticed that the water had turned a bluish-green with a foamy white substance on the surface.
Photo courtesy Stan Mills
On Wednesday, a DNREC emergency response crew was in town on Oak Avenue investigating. Michael Globetti, DNREC spokesman, says they determined that this was a naturally occurring algae bloom.
Todd Fritchman of Envirotech Environmental Consulting, the city’s lake management firm, said that the lake had been treated this past week. On Saturday, he said the lake had been fully restored and the treatments were “extremely successful.” Fritchman added that algae blooms such as this one are not uncommon especially for lakes that drain city streets. Silver Lake, he added, had a similar event several years ago that killed hundreds of fish.
This part of the lake has been a challenge for years. “Since SOLA3’s first project was to work with the City of Rehoboth and DNREC in 2004 to restore long-neglected Lake Gerar, it is disappointing to see the deterioration of its western prong over the years,” says Sallie Forman, SOLA3 president. SOLA3 is the organization which helps educate, research and promotes policies to protect, preserve and maintain Silver Lake, Lake Gerar and Lake Comegys.
“That area of the lake is severely polluted, very shallow so [it] receives more sunlight that warms the water, which is stagnant,” she said. “These are prime conditions that promote algae growth and because they deprive fish of oxygen, can lead to fish kills. The water may be toxic if it is blue-green algae,” she pointed out.
“We have been working with the city since 2016 to restore this area of the lake,” Forman said. “That has been delayed for lack of budgeting and completion of the Lake Avenue Streetscape project. Budgeting is now promised for FY 2022. While recognizing that the city and DNREC have many new priorities brought on by Covid-19, remedial action is necessary sooner rather than later to assure the western prong of the lake doesn’t continue to be a breeding ground for algae and a possible health hazard to wildlife and humans,” she added.
Details on blue-green algae bloom are on the DNREC website.