Saint Albans Vermont based author, artist and aquatic biologist, Corrina Parnapy has released a new book compiled from over a decade of scientific research within the Adirondacks and Vermont, and articles she’s had published regionally and nationally, all focused on the connection between water quality and algae. From road salt, acid rain, invasive species, sewage waste, fertilizers, to lawn care practices; all have a connection and impact on algae populations.
Posts Tagged ‘Toxic Harmful Algal Blooms’
DEC’s harmful algal bloom (HABs) notification season has begun. HABs notifications will be updated through the fall using an online reporting and notification system dubbed NYHABS. The system includes an interactive map that shows reports of freshwater HABs, as well as a public reporting system. Instructions on how to use NYHABS are on DEC’s HABs notification page.
Know it: If you see a HAB, please use the reporting form to submit a report to NYHABS.
Avoid it: Because waterbodies may have HABs that have not been reported to DEC, we recommend avoiding contact with floating mats, scums and discolored water.
Report it: If you, your family, or pet have been in contact with a HAB, please rinse with clean water and report any symptoms to your local health department.
It’s harmful algal bloom season, and Lake George had its first reported one of the season last week.
Getting information about it was messy. The Lake George Association first reported the suspicious bloom, found during a routine Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program survey, to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. DEC staff confirmed it was a harmful algal bloom and posted that information on its notifications page. I saw that report and requested information from both LGA staff and the DEC. What then ensued was a back-and-forth between DEC and LGA, via email and phone. It was clear that though the bloom was documented a couple of days before, no one was on the same page about how to get information out about it. There was even discrepancy over whether to call it a harmful algal bloom.
Not only does it form the basis of the aquatic food web, algae have the power to put a lid on bovine burps. Algae can also be made into a substitute for fossil fuels, and is a heathy and tasty food supplement for humans. But from mid-summer through early fall, certain algae can spread toxins through freshwater lakes and rivers, posing a risk to people, pets, fish, and more. Be on the lookout in northern New York State this summer for harmful algal blooms (HABs).
The term algae itself has no strict definition. It may refer to any number of photosynthetic organisms, many of which are not even closely related. Everything from single-cell microbes to giant kelp measuring 150 feet long can be labeled as algae. Worldwide, there are more than 5,000 species of algae, and nearly all of them are beneficial.
This topic holds a special place in my journalist heart. When I worked in Auburn, Owasco Lake, which is the drinking water source for a large part of Cayuga County, had harmful algal blooms (more accurately called cyanobacteria) near the City of Auburn’s drinking water intake pipe. Nearly every day in the summer and fall I was writing a story about whether the water was safe to drink and safe to swim in, not just for people, but for pets, too. I wrote about dogs that had died from ingesting the scum. Some cyanobacteria blooms have liver and neurotoxins that are fast-acting and kill pets, waterfowl and other animals.
In an unfortunate coincidence that may be no coincidence at all given the warm temperatures, two of the region’s famed lakes have been partly covered by harmful algal blooms in the past several days.
The first is Lake George, which hadn’t had a confirmed algal bloom on its surface.
The second is Mirror Lake, the lake at the center of the Village of Lake Placid. This algal bloom could also be a first for that lake.
I’ve been writing about the potential for harmful algal blooms to strike Adirondack lakes over the past year, starting with a look at the worst case scenario, which is what years of runoff have done to Lake Champlain. That story include a quick primer on what we’re talking about:
A handful of harmful algae blooms have struck the Adirondacks this summer, according to state environmental regulators.
Many blooms are inconvenient and ugly, but some are the product of toxic cyanobacteria that are often called and mistaken for algae. Without lab results, it’s impossible to know which is which, but officials tend to err on the side of caution now.
Inside the park’s boundaries, the state has identified five blooms it labels harmful, meaning not just icky but risky for people swimming in or drinking from the water. That figure, though, is sort of an undercount because it doesn’t include other blooms along Lake Champlain that are tracked by officials in Vermont.
A separate bloom tracker for Lake Champlain shows a series of blooms along the edge of the Adirondacks and the lake, though the ones happening now have been labeled “generally safe.”
The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) and Clarkson University will deploy new technologies to combat harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Lake Neatahwanta in Oswego County this summer. In 2019, Governor Cuomo challenged these research institutions to use their scientific expertise in water quality to develop new and innovative technologies to reduce the impact of HABs. SUNY ESF and Clarkson University will study the effectiveness of their experimental inventions this summer. Learn more about this project at DEC’s Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) Mitigation Studies webpage.
DEC will host a virtual public information session about the deployment of these experimental projects tonight, Wednesday, August 12, from 6 to 8 p.m. Register now for the information session.
photo courtesy of Upstate Freshwater Institute/Almanack archive
Not only does it form the basis of the aquatic food web, algae can put a lid on bovine burps. It is also made into a substitute for fossil fuels, and is a heathy and tasty food supplement for humans.
But in late summer and early fall, some algae can spread toxins through freshwater lakes and rivers, posing a risk to people, pets, fish, and more. Be on the lookout in northern NY State this season for outbreaks of algae. » Continue Reading.
New York Sea Grant is reminding the public to be informed about harmful algal blooms (HABs), how to avoid exposure of oneself and pets, and where to report potential HABs.
In a statement to the press, Jesse Lepak, Ph.D., Great Lakes Fisheries and Ecosystem Health Specialist with New York Sea Grant said: “Not all algal blooms are harmful, but some dense populations of cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, can produce toxins that can have serious effects on liver, nervous system, and skin of humans and their pets.” » Continue Reading.