The swimming area at Indian Pines Park in Penn Yan was closed last week  due to a bloom of blue-green algae in the area. The playground and picnic areas remained open to park visitors. The announcement was made last Tuesday morning after a report of a suspected algal bloom had been confirmed.

Monday morning, July 27, the park was once again open for swimming after the bloom had been cleared by wind and currents.

The neighboring beach at Red Jacket Park has yet to observe any blooms, and Keuka Lake State Park also remains open for swimming. Point Nemo at Keuka College remains closed due to restrictions from COVID-19.

In general, algal blooms are brief in nature, though some may hold on for several weeks. Because of their short lifespan, the N.Y.S. Dept. of Health does not take measures to clear or remove blooms from affected areas of water. Per state regulations, swimming areas affected by blooms must remain closed until the bloom is no longer visible for at least one day. The area must then be tested to confirm any potential toxin that could have been produced by the bloom is below four micrograms per liter.

The reported bloom is the first on Keuka Lake this year, though there have been confirmed cases on nearby Canandaigua and Cayuga Lakes, as well as several other of the Finger Lakes. Seneca Lake has yet to have a confirmed sighting of the algae this year.

Though the algae gets its name from the general appearance of its blooms, blue-green algae may also appear green, yellow, white, brown, purple, or red, according to the N.Y.S. Dept. of Health. Sightings may have a paint-like appearance on the water and are characterized by floating masses or scums. A common comparison is that the water looks like pea soup in an affected area.

Symptoms of algal exposure can include skin and eye irritation from contact or diarrhea and vomiting from ingestion. The Dept. of Health stresses that boiling contaminated water will not remove blue-green algae or its toxins from the water. 

The N.Y.S. Dept. of Health has the following recommendations with regards to blue-green algae:

• Do not swim, wade or fish in or near areas with reported algal blooms. 

• Do not drink water from or near areas with reported algal blooms.

• Keep children and pets away from the algae.

• If coming in contact with the algae, immediately rinse skin with clean, running water.

• If you are exhibiting symptoms associated with exposure to blue-green algae or believe you have spotted additional blooms in the Yates County area, contact the N.Y.S. Dept. of Health’s Geneva District Office at 315-789-3030.

• Reports may also be emailed to the N.Y.S. Dept. of Health at harmfulaglae@health.ny.gov. Further information on blue-green algae may be found on the state’s website, health.ny.gov.