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It's not just Owasco and Skaneateles lakes that have had high levels of toxins in their harmful algal blooms. Cayuga Lake's blooms are just as concentrated and just as bad.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation's Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program collects samples of algae as part of its efforts to monitor water quality across the Finger Lakes.

Results from a sample collected on Sept. 20 from the northwestern shoreline showed chlorophyll a levels nearly 40 times the DEC's threshold for measuring a bloom at 995.5 micrograms per liter. Chlorophyll a is one of the indicators the DEC uses to determine a harmful algal bloom. Microcystin, the most common toxin found in blooms in New York state, was found at nearly 12 times the DEC's threshold at 241.43 micrograms per liter.

A bloom sample collected on Sept. 26 near Yawger Creek was even worse. Chlorophyll a levels were at 3,977.48 micrograms per liter, 159 times the DEC's threshold. Microcystin were noted to be extremely dense and measured at 782.84 micrograms per liter. That's nearly 40 times the DEC's threshold of 20 micrograms per liter for confirming a harmful algal bloom.

With no watershed inspection program like Owasco Lake has, the information is not as readily available to the public. However, the DEC, the state Department of Health and the Cayuga County Health Department have continued to stress that people and pets should stay out of any discolored water or algal blooms. 

Meanwhile Owasco Lake watershed inspectors report that bloom samples collected Sept. 29 are still showing both microcystin and the neurotoxin anatoxin. A sample collected at the southern end of Owasco Lake near Birge Point showed microcystin at 112 micrograms per liter and anatoxin at 1.83 micrograms per liter. A bloom off of the Owasco Yacht Club also showed high levels of microcystin at 361.8 micrograms per liter. Anatoxin was much lower at 0.15 micrograms per liter.

The latest health department test results show toxins detected in the raw lake water coming into the city of Auburn and town of Owasco's water treatment plants. Owasco showed microcystin at 0.31 micrograms per liter and Auburn showed 0.19 micrograms per liter.  The carbon treatment systems continue to work, however, and no toxins were detected in the drinking water from samples collected on Oct. 9. 

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


County Government Reporter