Algae Bloom

An algae bloom was discovered on Owasco Lake near the Owasco Yacht Club Wednesday. 

The Owasco Yacht Club's bathing beach, which had been closed since Wednesday after blue-green algae was found, reopened Monday. 

The Cayuga County Health Department said there is currently no evidence of an active bloom in the area, and test strips indicate that toxin levels are no longer detectable. Samples had been collected in two locations on the northeast side of Owasco Lake, causing the Health Department to close the bathing beach to swimming.

But just as that beach was cleared, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation contacted the Health Department Monday with confirmation that a new bloom has appeared on the west side of the lake from samples collected on July 28 and 29.

Eileen O'Connor, the county's director of Environmental Health, cautioned that despite the beach reopening, those recreating on the lake should remain vigilant. 

"These blooms can pop up," O'Connor said. "People should be aware of what a bloom may look like, and avoid it. Just because the yacht club is now clear, that doesn't mean that there's not a bloom somewhere else along the lake."

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, has a filmy, paint-like appearance on the surface of water bodies. The bacteria is known to produce toxins, which if swallowed or touched while swimming, could cause negative effects to the liver and nervous systems, irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat, and inflammation of the respiratory tract. The Health Department said if any person or pet has diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, irritation of the skin, eyes or respiratory system after exposure to a bloom to contact a health care provider or veterinarian. 

Another Cayuga County water body, Lake Como, had confirmed blue-green algae on July 11. Lake Como blooms were listed as ended under the DEC's Harmful Algal Blooms Notifications Page.

The DEC updates its list of blue-green algae surveillance typically on Fridays, O'Connor said. A full listing of where the blooms have been spotted is available at dec.ny.gov/chemical/83310.html. If anyone suspects a bloom may be harmful, report it to HABsinfo@dec.ny.gov or harmfulalgae@health.ny.gov. If the bloom is present on Owasco Lake, report it to the Owasco Lake Watershed Inspection Program at (315) 427-5188 or (315) 237-2066.

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Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or gwendolyn.craig@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.