Blue-green algae

Blue-green algae has taken over the water near an Owasco Lake shoreline.

The Cayuga County Health Department announced on Monday that low levels of blue-green algae toxins were detected in Owasco and Auburn’s treated water.

In a press release, the health department said it collected untreated and treated water samples Monday from the city of Auburn and town of Owasco’s water treatment plants to monitor for toxins associated with blue-green algae.

Detectable levels of toxins (0.16 micrograms per liter) were found in Auburn’s treated drinking water and (0.18 micrograms per liter) in Owasco’s.

The department was notified Monday afternoon, that detectable levels of toxins (0.17 micrograms per liter respectively) were found in a sample collected on Sunday from Owasco’s treated drinking water.

Auburn provides public water to residents in the city, the towns of Aurelius, Fleming Water District 6, Throop, Mentz, Brutus, Montezuma, Sennett, Springport Water District 2, and the villages of Port Byron, Weedsport, and Cayuga. Owasco provides public water to residents in the town of Owasco and town of Fleming Water District.

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The health department said it will continue monitoring the levels. Samples from both Owasco and Auburn will be collected and analyzed Tuesday.

Even though there was a detection of microcystin toxin at levels ranging from 0.16 microgram per liter to 0.18 microgram per liter from the samples collected on Sunday and Monday in the treated water from Auburn and Owasco, these values are below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Health Advisory Level for short term exposure of 0.3 microgram per liter for the most sensitive population (preschool age children).

The short-term exposure Health Advisory value for school-age children through adults is 1.6 micrograms per liter for microcystins. Consuming water containing high levels of blue-green algae has been associated with effects on the liver and on the nervous system in laboratory animals, pets, livestock, and people.

The health department said it will continue to monitor the public water supplies and additional samples will be collected and sent to the laboratory daily for analysis until toxin levels are no longer a concern.

Individuals with questions may call the Environmental Health Division of the Cayuga County Health Department at 315-253-1560 or log onto the Cayuga County Health Department website www.cayugacounty.us/environmental for information.

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