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Toxic Algae Kills Fish, Forces Water Closures At Northwest Creek

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Alex DeMetrick 370x278 Alex DeMetrick
Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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KENT ISLAND, Md. (WJZ)– Blue-green algae has killed fish and it can make people sick.

As Alex DeMetrick reports, it’s become a recurring nightmare for an Eastern Shore community.

Blue-green algae is blooming in Northwest Creek on Kent Island. It’s already killed the fish.

“You just see the poor fish floundering around and then dying,” said Joann Abbott. “They die by the hundreds.”

And it’s been happening most every summer for the past decade. Once open to the bay, the creek has lost its inlet to the Chesapeake. People who live along the creek’s banks say it was deliberately sealed off when houses were constructed, leaving the water trapped and concentrating the nutrients algae eat into a super meal.

“It’s actually a bacteria. It’s one of the earliest plant-like things to appear on earth,” said Chris Luckett, Maryland Department of Environment.

When it comes to algae, blue-green poses a serious risk to health.

“And it has everybody frightened to death because animals could die and we could become ill,” said Margo French.

“Blue-green algae can be dangerous. In fact, the type that we often find in Northwest Creek is. It produces a toxin or poison that can make you sick, make pets and wildlife sick, if you ingest it,” Luckett said.

That’s put the water off-limits for all activities and increased the worry and frustration of people who live along the creek. They have been asking the state for years to re-open the inlet but say they have received no help.

“They’re estimating about five million dollars [if we do it ourselves] and of course we can’t afford that,” French said.

“It’s just the uncertainty. You’re living here. Here it can be toxic or it can be beautiful and nobody seems to want to do anything about it,” said James Abbott.

People who live along the creek say it takes a heavy storm to push water from the bay into the creek. The rest of the time, it remains land-locked.

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