July 25th, 2017

Harmful Algae Blooms on Cayuga Lake

Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) have been reported on the Cayuga Lake shoreline since mid-July 2017. They may persist until cold weather arrives. Read the information below and watch for updates. Find out what HABs are, why they are dangerous, what they look like, who to contact if you think you have found one, and who to contact to find out if your favorite beach is closed, and when it might re-open.


1. What is a Harmful Algae Bloom:
Click on link http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/77118.html to learn what a Harmful Algae Bloom (HAB) is, what causes it, and why you should STAY AWAY from them. Pets and kids too!!

2. Why HABs are dangerous/what to do if you are in contact with one: 
Click on link to the website www.health.ny.gov/harmfulalgae . It provides advice to avoid contact with blue-green algae blooms and information for people who may have been exposed. If you experience health symptoms, we recommend that you consider discussing these with your health care provider. If you believe your symptoms are associated with exposure to a HAB, please report them to your local health department (www.health.ny.gov/EnvironmentalContacts ) or NYS DOH (harmfulalgae@health.ny.gov ).

3. What does a HAB look like? Click on this link: http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/81962.html  

4. What to do if you think you have found a HAB outbreak:
If you suspect that you have seen a HAB, please report the bloom to the NYS DEC. Fill out and submit a Suspicious Algal Bloom Report Form. Email the completed form and, if possible, attach digital photos (close-up and landscape to show extent and location) of the suspected bloom, to HABsInfo@dec.ny.gov . Please report any health symptoms to NYS Health Department at harmfulalgae@health.ny.gov  and your local health department.

Please report any health symptoms to NYS Health Department at harmfulalgae@health.ny.gov  and your local health department.

4. If you are not sure whether or not it is a HAB, follow this advice:

* People, pets and livestock should avoid contact with any floating mats, scums, or discolored water. Colors can include shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red.

* Never drink, prepare food, cook or make ice with untreated surface water, whether or not algae blooms are present. In addition to toxins, untreated surface water may contain bacteria, parasites or viruses that could cause illness if consumed.

* People not on public water supplies should not drink surface water during an algal bloom, even if it is treated, because in-home treatments such as boiling, disinfecting water with chlorine or ultraviolet (UV), and water filtration units do not protect people from HABs toxins.

5. Where have HABs been found on Cayuga Lake this summer?
Since mid-July, HABs have been reported at the Village of Aurora swimming beach, Frontenac Park in Union Springs, and several other locations on both the east and west shorelines. Some of these are "potential" HABs, being observed carefully, and we advise you to not use these sites until the threat has vanished. These sites are all posted with warning signs by the county health departments. The NYS DEC updates their statewide list of HABs each week, but these lists are not detailed:http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/83310.html  

We - the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network, Community Science Institute, NYS DEC, Floating Classroom, county health departments, municipalities - will try to provide you with an updated list once or twice a week. You may want to call your local township or village office in advance of going swimming at a favorite spot. We will be organizing volunteer monitoring and reporting teams around the lake. Contactsteward@cayugalake.org  to get involved. 

*Cayuga County Dept of Health closes two Cayuga Lake beaches 7/18/17:http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2017/07/cayuga_county_closes_2_beaches_for_harmful_algae_blooms.html 

* Tompkins County Health Department press release 7/24/17: "Health department warns of suspcious algal blooms in water": http://tompkinscountyny.gov/news/health-department-warns-suspicious-algal-blooms-water 

*Ithaca Voice, 7/25/17: https://ithacavoice.com/2017/07/dec-monitoring-suspicious-algae-blooms-cayuga-lake/ 

* Cayuga County information about HABs: http://www.cayugacounty.us/Community/Health/Environmental-Health/Blue-Green-Algae