Water Quality Issues
It is an unfortunate reality that many waters across the country, including Cayuga Lake and all of the Finger Lakes, have experienced periodic hazardous conditions in specific locations associated with hazardous algal blooms (HABs) and/or elevated harmful bacteria levels. At this point, understanding of the science behind these occurances is limited and they are not possible to predict dependably. It is therefore important for lake users to be informed of potential hazards and current water quality conditions.
Beach Closure Information — State Parks
Closure information is posted by New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation at their Water Quality – Beach Results page.
However, there is a time lag between discovery, confirmation, and posting of closures. The safest way to know current conditions at public swimming areas is to call the facilities directly:
Areas Other than Public Beaches
Lake-wide monitoring for HABs and sampling for other potential hazards will begin again as we approach the swim season. See Algal Blooms links in the top banner for additional information. Once started, current findings will be listed here.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation provides links regarding water quality and safety at its Swimming Page
People who choose to recreate in unmonitored or unregulated water can help protect their health by following the advice below:
- Always stay away from blooms in surface water.
- Do not swallow water and consider keeping your face and head out of the water when swimming. This reduces the chance of getting sick from bacteria, parasites or other microorganisms that can enter your body through your mouth, eyes, ears and nose.
- Avoid swimming in cloudy or discolored water as it may contain microorganisms that can make people sick and it can make it harder to see underwater dangers.
- Wash your hands after swimming, especially before eating, and shower when you are done swimming for the day.
Source: NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
What should I do if I believe I have had contact with a HAB?
It is impossible to tell how toxic a cyanobloom is just from its appearance, so, if you believe you have seen a suspicious HAB, it is best to stay away and report it to email@example.com. People can be exposed to cyanotoxins in algal blooms through direct contact, inhalation of aerosolized particles, or ingestion. If you believe you have had contact with a bloom, rinse your skin with clean water immediately to remove any algae. Seek immediate medical attention if these or similar symptoms occur after having contact with a suspicious HAB: vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, skin, eye or throat irritation, allergic reactions, or breathing difficulties.
If you are concerned about physical symptoms and treatments due to HABs exposure, see the NYS Department of Health website here: https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/bluegreenalgae/
For more information about dogs and HABs see: https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/water_pdf/habspets.pdf
If you are concerned about how HABs will affect your private drinking water source, see this advice from the NYS Department of Health: https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/6629.pdf
For more information about how public water treatment centers handle HABs see: https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/6632.pdf