HABs In the News

HABs in the News

Below are links to HABs related articles from across the country. Some have excerpts that have interesting and relevant information to Cayuga Lake Watershed residents!

Local groups closely monitoring for Harmful Algal Blooms; no confirmations so far

July 10, 2018

By Kelsey O’Connor

ITHACA, N.Y. — Cayuga Lake is being closely monitored for Harmful Algal Blooms, which were a major concern last summer. So far this year, there have been no confirmed blooms on the southern end of Cayuga Lake.

HABs, or blue-green algae blooms, are visually identifiable. The bacteria gives the water a blue and green paint-like appearance. They can be toxic and if sighted, people are advised to stay away from them.

There have been some confirmed blooms in Cayuga Lake as far north as Dean’s Cove and Long Point. However, there have been some suspicious sightings farther south. Samples have been collected from Lansing Station Road and just south of Atwater, but have not been tested yet, according to Claire Weston, outreach coordinator of the Community Science Institute.

Hits & Misses: Cayuga County celebrates July 4th, algae spotted in Cayuga Lake

The Citizen Editorial Board 

Jul 6, 2018 Updated Jul 6, 2018  

As the weather heats up, water-watchers have been nervously anticipating the arrival of algae, which can manifest into blooms that can pollute sources of drinking water. Blooms were reported to have formed earlier this week near the eastern and western shores of the lake, forcing the temporary closure of the beach at Long Point State Park in the midst of a heat wave.

The Cayuga Lake Watershed Network asks anyone spotting potentially harmful blooms to take photographs, note the time, day and location, and send the information to habshotline@gmail.com.

Dog owners reminded to be aware of algal blooms when out near the water

The Observer

June 11, 2018

ITHACA — New York Sea Grant is partnering with the Pennsylvania and Lake Champlain Sea Grant programs and New York State Parks to remind dog owners to enjoy the water this summer, but remember to stay smart, safe, and informed about algal blooms and their impact on people and pets. “Harmful algal blooms, also known as HABs, are dense populations of cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae. Not all blooms are harmful, but some algal blooms can produce toxins that affect the liver, nervous system, and skin of humans and their pets,” says Jesse Lepak, Ph.D., Great Lakes Fisheries and Ecosystem Health Specialist with New York Sea Grant.

Dog deaths suspected as a result of harmful algal blooms prompted New York Sea Grant to develop a Dogs and HABs informational brochure in 2014. The brochure, updated in 2017, is downloadable from http://seagrant.sunysb.edu/articles/r/2748 with video clips.

Toxic algae blooms becoming more common across US

By Associated Press, The New York Post

June 22, 2018 

Invasive species harmful to North Country ecosystem

By Assemblyman Billy Jones, The Press Republican, The hometown newspaper of Clinton, Essex and Franklin Counties

Jul 4, 2018

Blue-Green Algae Arrives Early, Again

By Kathy Welsh -June 20, 2018

“BREWSTER— Blue-green algal blooms have arrived early for the second consecutive year. So far this year, seven public beaches in Putnam County have been closed due to harmful growth.”

Angling for less harmful algal blooms

By Brent Sohngen and Wedong Zhang

July 4th 2018

“The amount of harmful algae has rapidly increased in recent decades and it has adversely affected ecosystems from the Great Salt Lake, to the Great Lakes, to Great River, NY, and beyond. Runoff from crop and livestock production has increased the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous in water, which has led to eutrophication—where plants grow, but fish die due to lack of oxygen. This process has had various negative impacts across space and time. In Lake Erie, a significant and ever-growing hypoxic zone (an area with low or no dissolved oxygen) has grown. This jeopardizes the local fishing industry and the livelihoods of those who depend on it. Mitigating the risks uses a lot of resources. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that it costs approximately $3 billion per year to deal with algal toxins in Ohio’s public water systems. In addition, these toxic bacteria pose public health risks to humans and animals—in 2010 alone, there were 9 probable or suspect illness cases from Lake Erie water.

What are the economic impacts of HABs on US recreational anglers in Lake Erie? Findings demonstrate that anglers are willing to pay $8 to $10 more per trip for one less mile of boating through HABs en route to a fishing site. In addition, we find that anglers are willing to pay, on average, $40 to $60 per trip for a policy that cuts upstream phosphorus loadings by 40%. The majority of benefits for anglers result from improving the fishing experience, notably water clarity and HAB reduction, as opposed to better chances of angler success. This, in part, is due to the fact the fish will circle around the edges of the hypoxic zone so catch rates actually may not decline in lakes with more algae.

HABs have severely compromised recreation opportunities, public health, and safe drinking water. Unfortunately it is not just in large lakes like Lake Erie, it is increasingly present in local lakes and streams as well. Families now must pay attention to HABs and watch for beach or lake advisories, especially during the summer and early fall. Luckily, NOAA now has weekly HAB forecast program for Lake Erie, Gulf of Maine, as well as the Pacific Northwest. Check these forecasts before planning your fishing or boating trips, and monitor for the red diamond “Elevated Recreational Public Health Advisory” signs, or review a check-list for what to do if you have a pet that has been in contact with HAB materials.

Massive and toxic algae bloom threatens Florida coasts with another lost summer

By Jenny Staletovich, Miami Herald

July 3, 2018 

How to build a future free of toxic algal blooms

Austin Lamb  

Apr 28, 2018

Cold weather, Howarth says, creates “prime conditions” for delivering nitrogen in the form of excess manure to the lakes through rainfall and snowmelt. “I think it’s a perfect storm of nitrogen and the wet-dry cycling which is becoming more and more extreme,” he said. “Our climate didn’t use to have these really dry summers followed by really wet summers. That’s what climate change is doing to us… That is our climate now. We have to manage for it. We can’t pretend that the world hasn’t changed.”

To reduce nutrient runoff into the lakes, agricultural changes must be made, such as nutrient management plans to ensure the correct amount of fertilizer is used, or vegetated buffers and drainage ditches alongside streams to filter runoff. “We need different management practices to get the farmers to try and keep the nitrogen on their farms as opposed to in the air or the creeks,” said Howarth. “And it’s doable—we know how to do that, but we’re not doing it, because no one has thought it’s a problem.”

As a result of the HAB issue, Cayuga Lake will be receiving a total maximum daily load (TMDL) regulation issued by the DEC. A TMDL, which is a part of the U.S. Clean Water Act, is the highest amount of pollutants that can be present in a body of water while still meeting a water quality standard, and is developed by the DEC using a factors such as land use, water quality data, waterbody and watershed descriptors, rainfall data, and pollutant sources.

Once Cayuga Lake receives a TMDL, Johnston advises citizens to look for and review it, make sure the municipal government reviews it, provide comments, and look for ways to participate in its implementation.

This Fourth of July, Watch Out for Toxic Algae Blooms in Lakes

By Anne Weir Schechinger, Senior Analyst, Economics

JUNE 29, 2018

Since EWG last reported on the number of poisonous algae outbreaks in the U.S. in June, 27 more outbreaks have happened. EWG’s interactive algae story map shows where the outbreaks are taking place.

The new outbreaks have occurred from coast to coast – from Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet, Calif., to Sisson Pond, R.I. And the outbreaks have affected lakes that are popular Fourth of July destinations, like Lake of the Ozarks, Mo., and have even popped up in multiple ponds and lakes in New York City.

These toxic algae outbreaks aren’t just impacting recreation, but are also poisoning drinking water. Salem, Ore., had a “do not drink” advisory in place for many weeks due to algae toxins. And just last week, the governor of Kansas declared a state of emergency in the City of Norton due to harmful algae outbreaks in the lake that is the city’s water source. The National Guard had to be called in to take clean drinking water to Norton residents.

Isolated Algal Blooms On Chautauqua Lake; All Beaches Safe And Open

The Post-Journel

JUL 3, 2018   

MAYVILLE — The Chautauqua County Health Department’s Public Health Division has noticed isolated harmful algal blooms in the south basin of Chautauqua Lake.

Harmful algal blooms present a public health risk because they can release toxins which may be harmful to human and animal health. People and pets can be exposed to toxins by contact (touching, swallowing, and inhaling water droplets) with HABs during water recreation activities, through surface water use around the house, such as watering gardens, and through improperly treated drinking water. Municipal water treatment facilities in Chautauqua County do test for toxins in lake water as part of the treatment process.

“Not all blooms are hazardous, but the Health Department recommends taking the following precautions,” said Christine Schuyler, county director of Health and Human Services. “When swimming, wading, or boating, avoid areas with blooms or surface scums, or water that is noticeably discolored. This applies to everyone – adults, children, and animals. Don’t fish or eat fish caught from areas with blooms or surface scums, or water that is noticeably discolored. Pay attention to beach closures, advisory signs, press releases, and websites. Never swim at beaches that are closed. Never drink, prepare food, cook, or make ice with untreated surface water, bloom or no bloom.”

If people or pets are accidentally exposed to a bloom use clean water to rinse off as soon as possible. Consider medical attention if people or pets have symptoms including diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, skin irritation, and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties after exposure to surface waters with HABs.

New York state and Chautauqua County have active programs aimed at reducing the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen entering streams and lakes. Watershed management plans have been developed for several lakes in Chautauqua County, including Chautauqua and Findley. As recommendations in the plans are implemented, improved water quality will follow, but it may take years to see improvements.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Health investigate harmful algal bloom reports, samples blooms for toxins and conducts research to learn more about HABs and toxin production. 

The Chautauqua County Health Department monitors permitted bathing beaches for harmful algal blooms and the indicator bacteria E. coli. To best protect the public from possible illness, beaches are closed when the water exceeds bacteria safety standards and/or harmful algal blooms are identified. Weekly updates are planned throughout the summer to alert residents of changes in the status of harmful algal blooms in the county. The current status of Chautauqua County permitted public beaches and additional information about harmful algal blooms are listed on the county website at chautauqua.ny.us/246/Beach-Closings.

Here we go again: Algal bloom found in Utah Lake prompts health warning

By Rick Egan, The Salt Lake Tribune

June 12, 2018

Water experts are urging visitors to keep themselves, their pets and other animals out of parts of Utah Lake, after detecting a potentially toxic blue-green algal bloom in Provo Bay. 

DEC: No swimming in Kinderhook Lake

Amanda Purcell and Carly Miller Columbia-Greene Media

July 2, 2018 03:30 pm Updated: July 3, 2018 05:11 am

KINDERHOOK — Swimmers should avoid Kinderhook Lake after harmful blooms of algae were detected in the water, according to a report from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

DEC test samples taken on June 26 confirmed the presence of cyanobacteria, a harmful algae bloom, in the lake.

As of Monday, the algal bloom is not believed to be lakewide, but is concentrated in one area, which means the bloom affects many properties within an entire cove along a large segment of the shoreline, or in a specific region of the water body, according to the report.

Despite the warnings, some lakeside residents took to the water Monday, cooling off as a heat wave brought near-record temperatures to the region.

“It doesn’t keep us out of the water,” said Dennis Shields, of Kinderhook, after stepping off a Jet Ski near the boat launch. “People have roots around here and are passionate about the lake. Everyone wants to see improvements with the algae.”

Shields saw DEC representatives taking water samples for algae testing recently while he was fishing, he said, noting the DEC strategically cuts seaweed in certain areas to protect fish and turtle eggs.

Three samples — two near the outlet and one near the northwesternmost shore — were tested in the lake last week as part of the DEC’s report. All were confirmed to have levels above the DEC threshold for a confirmed bloom, according to the DEC.

Exposure to the bloom by touching, swallowing or inhaling could cause diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting, and skin, eye or throat irritation, according to the DEC.

The lake is privately owned and managed by the Kinderhook Lake Corporation, Kinderhook Town Supervisor Patrick Grattan said.

“I have no recollection of this happening before,” Grattan said.”

Cleary urges residents to check the KLC website, take precautions and make their own decisions when it comes to swimming in the lake. “We’re trying to be proactive, we don’t want to see harm come to anybody,” he said. “The copper sulfate treatment has seemingly had a good effect and it’s clearing up.”

While swimmers should avoid areas specified by the DEC where Harmful Algal Blooms, or HABs, are present, much of the 375-acre lake is safe, Kelleher said. Signs were posted warning residents around the lake of the bloom by the Kinderhook Lake Corporation. “It’s really just where the blooms are, you just avoid certain areas,” Kelleher said.

Events listed for the Fourth of July on the Kinderhook Lake Corporation’s website, like the Kayak rally and boat parade, will go on as planned, Kelleher said. 

Algal bloom warning signs from the Kinderhook Lake Corporation were spotted at the lake’s boat launch and near Parker Hall Road on Monday, and in their spring 2018 newsletter.

“I like how the DEC is trying to handle it in a way that’s best for the lake,” Kelleher said. “But they should have a proactive step to communicate with people who use the lake. There are a thousand boats on the water during Fourth of July. The report says no swimming but I bet people will still swim.”

“This is the only real lake you can come and put a boat on,” Zeh said.

Algal blooms worry homeowner Donna Hudson, who lives on the Kinderhook Lake for the summer and spends the rest of her time in Florida, where persistent algae blooms cause respiratory problems.

 For more on this story, visit HudsonValley360.com.

State Water Board Reminds the Public to be Aware of Harmful Algal Blooms this Holiday Weekend

By State Water Resources Control Board 

July 2, 2018

SACRAMENTO, July 2, 2018 – With many swimmers and boaters expected at the state’s lakes, streams and reservoirs this July 4 weekend, the State Water Board is reminding the public to be mindful of harmful algal blooms (HABs) and to practice Healthy Water Habits, such as keeping pets away, if they see one.

Last week, the California State and Regional Water Boards conducted targeted sampling at some of the state’s most visited lakes and streams that have a history of HABs. This sampling was part of a collaborative effort with other state and local agencies to gather data and share it with the public. Those agencies included the California Department of Water Resources, Klamath Basin Monitoring Program, East Bay Regional Parks, Elem Indian Colony, Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians, and others.

“Being aware of the conditions at your local waterbody before heading out to recreate is important to keeping you and your pets healthy this 4th of July weekend, and anytime during these hot summer days when HABs can be present,” said State Water Board Vice Chair Steven Moore. “The State Water Board thanks local agencies and groups for working together to identify HABs and keep the public informed on how to safely recreate.”

The results of the targeted sampling for approximately 40 waterbodies are summarized in an interactive map (Figure 1). You can see which locations were sampled at each waterbody and recommended advisory levels. Recommended advisory levels are based on cyanotoxin testing results and/or visual indicators confirming the presence of a HAB.

Please be aware that HAB location, extent and toxicity can change quickly. The data in this map is subject to change as new information is received. The interactive map can be viewed at: https://mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/data_viewer/

Can you smell that smell? Last of bad odors near Onondaga Lake may soon be gone

Glenn Coin 

June 6, 2018

Syracuse, N.Y. — One of the last offensive smells long associated with Onondaga Lake may soon disappear. Onondaga County is rebuilding the sewage pumping station along I-690 near Onondaga Lake. When the $18 million project, it will reduce the odor detected along the highway.

Onondaga County’s West Side sewage pump station, between I-690 and the lake, is being expanded and upgraded. The pump station takes in about 8 million gallons of sewage a day from communities in the western suburbs, then pumps it to the wastewater treatment plant on Hiawatha Boulevard.

Michalenko said three major sources of bad odors from the lake in the past have been cut dramatically:

Algae. Severe algae blooms were common in the past, and rotting algae produced bad smells. Large-scale algae blooms haven’t occurred in nearly 20 years, largely because upgrades to the county’s treatment plant on Hiawatha Boulevard cut the discharge of phosphorus, a major food for algae, by nearly 90 percent.

Are the state’s algae plans enough to solve the HAB problem?

By Lori Sonken 

Jan 27, 2018

Governor Cuomo plans to develop an action plan by this Spring to reduce sources of pollution that spark the algal blooms that closed portions of Cayuga Lake to swimming last summer, even threatening the popular Women Swimmin fundraiser for Hospicare. But not everyone thinks the state’s ambitious timeframe, nor its relatively paltry financial contributions, are realistic in addressing the root of the problem.

State working on algae-reduction plans for NY lakes, including Cayuga

Associated Press, Ithaca Journal 

June 14, 2018

The number of pollution-fed toxic algae blooms is climbing in New York. The Post-Standard says the state recorded blooms last week in 19 bodies of water from central New York to Manhattan, Brooklyn and Long Island. That’s over double the number recorded around Memorial Day weekend.

Signs of Sustainability: The Cayuga Lake Watershed Restoration & Protection Plan

By Hilary Lambert, Steward/Executive Director, CLWN

February 12, 2018 in Opinion