Potentially toxic blue-green algae may have bloomed in Seneca Lake last year. That again, maybe it didn’t. There was a certain amount of confusion on that point at the largest Finger Lake last year, partly because no one was sampling to see… if it really was algae that folks kept seeing.
That should be a thing of the past. The Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association announced Tuesday that the group and the state Department of Environmental Conservation have arranged to begin regular observation, sampling and analysis of Seneca water for the presence of algal toxin.
“We welcome this initiative from DEC to create an organized and effective program to monitor this threat to public health and safety. Last year we had a number of questions from residents and no way to respond to their concerns,” said Edwin Przybylowicz, who will coordinate the sampling for the lake association.
The five largest Finger Lakes — Cayuga, Seneca, Keuka, Canandaigua and Skaneateles — had been left out of the extensive toxin sampling that’s been done in recent years by the state. Mainly this was because the lake associations there either didn’t know about the state algal-toxin testing or chose not to get involved.
Water in those lakes is deep, cool and of traditionally of very good quality. That makes them generally inhospitable to blue-green algae, which favor warm, still, nutrient rich water.
But climate change is warming all the lakes, and may be triggering heavier rains and more nutrient runoff. Occasional patches of blue-green algae have been seen in Canandaigua, Cayuga and Seneca, and there are worries it will become more common over time. Toxin from blue-green algae (which actually are bacteria, not algae) can cause a range of symptoms from rashes and upset stomachs to liver damage and neurological dysfunction.
Under the arrangement at Seneca, volunteers will collect samples of water that appears to contain algae and will photograph suspected algae blooms for interpretation by DEC experts. The state provides collection kits and will have the samples analyzed. The DEC will post any positive findings on its blue-green algae alert webpage.
The lake association has set up a blue-green algae hotline to accept reports of suspicious blooms (the number is (800) 220-1609, but is only for Seneca Lake), and has created an elaborate protocol laying out who tells what to whom when reports come in. If need be, the association said it would share a positive finding of algal toxin with its members and the local media.
It was not clear Tuesday if any of the other four big Finger Lakes have made similar arrangements with DEC.
Photo caption: The Village Marina in Watkins Glen is located in the county-owned Seneca Harbor Park on the Seneca Lake waterfront. / FILE PHOTO
Steve Orr, Stargazette
View original article at: Algae testing coming to Seneca Lake