LAKE GEORGE — The Lake George Association has launched a new citizen science program called AlgaeWatch and is seeking volunteers to monitor their favorite areas of the Lake for excessive algae growth and, especially, harmful algal blooms (HABs). Interested volunteers can sign up for the program at lakegeorgeassociation.org/algaewatch and also watch a new LGA educational video on the dangers posed by HABs and what can be done to prevent them.
AlgaeWatch volunteers will monitor shoreline or near-shore areas around their home or business, or areas they otherwise frequent, document the growth of various types of algae, and report back to the LGA on their findings. If a HAB is discovered, volunteers will also report their findings to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The information gathered will help the LGA science and technical team, their partners with The Jefferson Project environmental monitoring program, and DEC identify problem areas and help guide implementation of appropriate mitigation measures.
Volunteers will also receive email alerts from the LGA any time water and weather conditions are especially conducive to HAB formation, as well as updates on any ongoing blooms. HABs are most apt to occur when water and wind conditions are calm, and the weather is warmer than usual.
“HABs are our canary in the coal mine,” said LGA Manager of Water Quality Research Brea Arvidson. “When a HAB occurs, or any case of excessive algae growth for that matter, the Lake is telling us it needs help. By identifying these occurrences as early as possible, we can deploy the right resources to identify the cause and begin to develop science-based solutions.”
Excessive algae growth, most often fed by nutrient loading from stormwater runoff and failing septic systems, poses a serious and growing threat to Lake George water quality. In the Fall of 2020, the risks escalated, as the Lake experienced the first of three confirmed HABs. A HAB is a dense concentration of cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) that presents itself as a green film on the surface of the water and can quickly spread, preventing sunlight from reaching the water and consuming the oxygen that other organisms need to survive. In a worst-case scenario, a HAB can become toxic to humans and animals.
None of the Lake George blooms to date have been toxic or caused the major environmental and economic damage that has occurred in other parts of the state and country. Still, the concern is real and the need for intensive monitoring is vital to Lake protection.
“It takes a community of people to properly monitor a Lake the size of Lake George,” Ms. Arvidson said. “And that’s exactly what we’re asking for. We need anyone who lives, works or regularly spends time on or around the Lake to be an AlgaeWatcher and play a role in protecting water quality today and for the future.”
Property owners in the Lake George Watershed, are also encouraged to take their protective actions to the next level by signing up to become an LGA Lake Protector. Participants in this program will receive a Personal Protection Plan identifying the greatest water quality threats in their area of the Lake and the steps they can take to combat those threats at their home or business. To become a Lake Protector, visit LakeGeorgeAssociation.org/protectors.
The Lake George Association is the preeminent Lake-protection organization, providing technical and financial assistance to property owners; world-class research and direct protection programs through The Jefferson Project, the Lake George Waterkeeper, and an array of public-private partnerships; public education programs; and public policy advocacy, all with the goal of keeping Lake George clear and clean, providing a model for freshwater protection. For more information, please visit LakeGeorgeAssociation.org.
Photo at top: This dense collection of filamentous algae spotted on Lake George this summer could be a sign of excess nutrient loading from stormwater runoff and/or failing septic systems. Participants in the LGA’s new AlgaeWatch program are being asked to monitor for this type of growth and alert the LGA when found. Please note: The algae shown in this photo is not cyanobacteria, the type of algae that leads to harmful algal blooms. Photo provided by John Brodt of Behan Communications.