What do HABs Have to Do with Cayuga Lake?
First and foremost, Cayuga Lake is a drinking water source for over 100,000 people. This basic use must be protected from these toxins and other pollutants. Our clean lake water is used for recreation – swimming, boating – and by many businesses and farmers, including wineries, breweries, cheese-makers, and for other industrial and commercial uses.
Clean water is essential to daily life around Cayuga Lake.
We must protect it for our human uses, as well as for plants, birds, fish, aquatic organisms and other animals.
Drinking Water & HABs: “Understanding the risks of piping surface water into your home.”
Why are HABs here?
According to NYS DEC’s Harmful Algal Blooms FAQ sheet:
“HABs are likely triggered by a combination of water and environmental conditions that may include: excess nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), lots of sunlight, low-water or low-flow conditions, calm water, and warm temperatures. Depending on the weather and the characteristics of the lake, HABs may be short-lived (appearing and disappearing in hours) or long-lived (persisting for several weeks or more).”
Many of the nutrient inputs that can cause an algal bloom (eutrophication) are associated with activities and sources outside of shorefront properties. Lake residents and lake associations are working with local and county government agencies to identify sources of nutrients and strategies to reduce nutrient inputs to the lake.
Lake eutrophication can be reduced by:
● limiting lawn fertilization
● maintaining septic tanks
● creating shoreline buffers
● reducing erosion and stormwater runoff
● maintaining water movement.
Although HABs have been observed for many decades, recent high profile blooms throughout the world and in New York have increased the need for enhanced education, documentation, and reporting of blooms. Since 2012, HABs have been documented in several hundred waterbodies in New York, and it is likely the true extent of bloom occurrence is substantially greater. It is not yet known if recent increases in bloom frequency and duration reflect changing environmental conditions or are a result of improved reporting and monitoring of their occurrence.
Many of these nutrient control strategies are discussed in Chapters 7 and 9 in Diet for a Small Lake and in the Preventing HABs Section on the Information about HABs page. For more information, see DEC programs and resources to improve water quality.