Over the past five years, Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, in collaboration with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) and the Finger Lakes Institute (FLI) at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, has been diligently working to develop and implement a cyanobacteria bloom identification and notification process for Seneca Lake. Cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae or harmful algal blooms (HABs), are found worldwide especially in calm, nutrient-rich waters. Unfortunately, some species of cyanobacteria produce toxins that may negatively affect the health of animals and humans thus requiring a public notification or alert system.
Last summer, over 100 volunteers monitored 55 miles of Seneca Lake's shoreline and submitted weekly reports of their observations. Blooms began to appear in mid-August and continued to be present through the end of September with 36 of the 39 cyanobacteria blooms identified producing high levels of microcystin. Cyanobacteria blooms are a growing problem as indicated by the chart below.
This year, in an effort to get a more complete picture of where blooms appear on the lake, organizers hope to monitor all 75+ miles of Seneca Lake's shoreline. More than 90 percent of last year’s volunteers have agreed to participate in the shoreline monitoring program this year. However, additional volunteers to help observe the entire shoreline are still needed.
Anyone interested in helping out and who can:
• Attend a 2-hour training session at the Finger Lakes Institute in Geneva.
• Observe the same segment of shoreline from Aug. 5 - Oct. 8.
• Document conditions using a digital camera or smart phone.
• Submit a weekly observation report.
To learn more about this program visit https://senecalake.org/ and click on "Shoreline Monitoring Volunteers Needed" to complete a form