The state Department of Environmental Conservation confirmed the presence of a cyanobacteria Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) in a water sample taken from Seneca Lake.
On Tuesday, Aug. 21, scientists at the Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith Colleges informed the DEC that test results of a water sample taken from the Perry Point area on the west side Seneca Lake exceeded the DEC confirmed bloom threshold of 25 micrograms per liter of blue green chlorophyll, according to Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association.
The HAB was small and localized in extent, according to the Pure Waters’ Shoreline Survey volunteer who obtained the water sample.
Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association organizes and implements a 10-week collaborative Shoreline Monitoring program designed to identify and report HABs during the months of August and September. A similar shoreline monitoring program is also taking place on Canandaigua Lake.
“We are grateful to have the help of over 100 dedicated volunteers, these people really care about Seneca Lake and the well being of people who utilize the lake for drinking water and recreational activities,” stated Pure Waters’ HAB Director Frank DiOrio.
Volunteers weekly monitor an assigned lakeshore zone and complete an online survey that summarizes their findings. DiOrio explains that when a suspicious HAB is found, the volunteer takes pictures of the bloom and also obtains a water sample for laboratory analysis at the Finger Lakes Institute. The public is notified of any laboratory confirmed HABs, the location of suspicious and confirmed HABs along with photographs may be seen on the Pure Waters interactive bloom map accessible at SenecaLake.org.
Water samples are then sent for further analysis. The data collected is provided to the DEC for their ongoing research projects specifically to assess HABs risk and to better understand the conditions that trigger HABs. The DEC HABs Program notifies state and local authorities of HAB occurrence and includes up to date information on blooms statewide.
For more information go to the NYSDEC website.
According to the DEC, exposure to any cyanobacteria HABs can cause health effects in people and animals when water with blooms is touched, swallowed, or when airborne droplets are inhaled. This is true regardless of toxin levels; some blue-green algae produce toxins, while others do not. Exposure to blooms and toxins can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea or vomiting; skin, eye or throat irritation and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties. People and pets should avoid contact with blooms, and should rinse off with clean water if contact occurs. For more information go to www.health.ny.gov/harmfulalgae.