Lake group documents algae growth
SENECA LAKE--As cooler temperatures have come to the Finger Lakes region, the Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) season is ending. The Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association reported there was only one suspicious bloom left at the end of September and there were no confirmed blooms or confirmed toxic blooms.
Exposure to 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.
This season there have been 49 suspicious areas, 38 confirmed blooms and 10 confirmed toxic, according to the association's weekly update.
During the summer over 50 miles of shoreline was observed for 10 weeks by shoreline survey volunteers. The volunteers all attended a formal training program, and the waters association reports over 95 percent of the suspected water samples collected ended up being confirmed as HABs by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
However, the group also reported they had no recorded incidences of HABs causing harm to people and pets within the watershed community.
Late in the summer, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a pilot project to deploy data collection stations on lakes in New York. The Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association said the advanced-monitoring station for HABs was installed in the northeast quadrant of Seneca Lake, Thursday, Sept. 27. The advanced monitoring will help in understanding bloom formation and target effective mitigation strategies to combat the blooms.
Each station is equipped with state-of-the-art technology that measures temperature, specific conductance, pH, dissolved oxygen, percent oxygen saturation, turbidity, chlorophyll fluorescence, phycocyanin fluorescence, and dissolved organic matter fluorescence. Some of the stations are also equipped with a webcam.
The sensors collect information on these parameters at 15-minute intervals, 24-hours a day. Data collected is being sent to the internet in real-time and incorporated into the USGS National Water Information System (NWIS). Once in NWIS, the data is immediately available to anyone with internet access. Data is free to download and use by visiting the "Water Quality Data Viewer" at https://ny.water.usgs.gov/maps/habs/.
HABs can be reported to the DEC by emailing HABsInfo@dec.ny.gov.