Site photography courtesy of Matt Champlin

Facts on Skaneateles Lake Blue Green Algal Bloom (HAB or Harmful Algal Bloom) September 2017

From the Town of Skaneateles       October 10, 2017

Skaneateles Lake  Algae Update  10.10.17

 Those who use water from a private lake intake must be sure to read the section of this release that is pertinent to them.

JOINT STATEMENT FROM ONONDAGA COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT AND CITY OF SYRACUSE DEPARTMENT OF WATER

Following the reports of algal blooms on Skaneateles Lake, the New York State Department of Health, Onondaga County Health Department, and the City of Syracuse Department of Water continue to work collaboratively to collect samples to determine whether there were levels of algal toxin that could impact the municipalities that use Skaneateles Lake as a public drinking water supply.

Samples tested today at the state’s Wadsworth Lab in Albany found non-detectable results inside the City of Syracuse Gatehouse located in the Village of Skaneateles. This level is consistent with prior reported sampling at the Gatehouse and below the health advisory levels for both adults and sensitive populations. Results also showed non-detectable levels of toxin for all other samples of water that are representative of drinking water reaching customers of the system, including the City of Syracuse, the Town of Dewitt, the Village of Skaneateles, the Town of Skaneateles, the Town of Elbridge, the Village of Elbridge and the Village of Jordan.

Residents in the Village of Skaneateles and the other municipalities which use this drinking water source can continue to drink the water.

The New York State Department of Health, Onondaga County Health Department and the City of Syracuse Department of Water will continue enhanced monitoring through daily testing across the system until all samples consistently return non-detectable results.

State and local officials will remain vigilant on this issue and continue our efforts to update and inform communities in Onondaga County.

 

Onondaga County Health Department reminds residents who draw water directly from Skaneateles Lake through near-shore PRIVATE INTAKES to take the following precautions:

* DO NOT USE the water for potable purposes such as drinking, making infant formula, making ice, brushing teeth, preparing food, washing dishes, or for pets.

* Do not use the water for bathing when algae blooms are present near your water intake

To be clear, these recommendations apply only to residents with private intakes; in-home treatments such as boiling, ultraviolet radiation (UV), and water filtration units do not remove the toxins associated with harmful algal blooms.

 

Justin Sayles

County Executive Joanie Mahoney

315-435-3516

@OnondagaCounty

 

 

You can view the most Lake Water Service Illustration and report at TownofSkaneateles.com

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

From the Town of Skaneateles       September 22, 2017

Blue Green Algae Update For Homes With Private Intakes on Skaneateles Lake

Onondaga County Health Department, Joanne M. Mahoney, County Executive 

Indu Gupta, MD, MPH, Commissioner of Health

John H. Mulroy Civic Center · 421 Montgomery Street, Syracuse, NY 13202

Phone 315.435.3155 · Fax 315.435.5720

Onondaga County Health Department reminds residents who draw water directly from Skaneateles Lake through near-shore PRIVATE INTAKES to take the following precautions:

  • DO NOT USE the water for potable purposes such as drinking, making infant formula, making ice, brushing teeth, preparing food, washing dishes, or for pets.
  • Do not use the water for bathing when algae blooms are present near your water intake

To be clear, these recommendations apply only to residents with private intakes; in-home treatments such as boiling, ultraviolet radiation (UV), and water filtration units do not remove the toxins associated with harmful algal blooms.

The Health Department recommends taking the following additional precautions:

Learn more about blue-green algae:

  • Do not swim, wade, or fish near algae blooms or surface scums
  • Do not let dogs wade, drink the water, or walk on algae-contaminated shoreline debris
  • Rinse yourself and pets with clean water if exposed to algae
  • Anyone who experiences skin or eye irritation or gastrointestinal illness should contact their health care provider.

Visit us: www.ongov.net/health Follow us: facebook.com/ongovhealth

* Blue-Green Algae and Health: www.health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/bluegreenalgae/

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

From the Town of Skaneateles       September 22, 2017

Blue-Green Algae

Some types of algae can produce toxins that can be harmful to people and animals. Algal blooms that produce toxins are known as Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). Environmental conditions that contribute to the formation of HABs in bodies of water include excess nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), abundant sunlight, calm water conditions, and warmer temperatures.

This summer, HABs have been identified in many New York State lakes including the recent findings on Skaneateles Lake. Skaneateles Lake is an unfiltered source of public drinking water for the Town and Village of Skaneateles, Town and Village of Elbridge, Village of Jordan, City of Syracuse and portions of the Towns of Onondaga and Dewitt.

Know It Surface water that is discolored with a paint-like or filmy appearance or floating scum should always be avoided as they are potentially harmful. Images of these types of blooms as well as non-harmful blooms can be viewed by clicking here. Weather influences where harmful algae blooms will occur. During extended periods of calm and sunny days, blooms can accumulate at the surface in any location. Wind and waves may cause them to form along shorelines or in protected areas. Shifts in wind direction can move a bloom from one location to another. Periods of cool rainy weather can often lead to the disappearance of a bloom HABsinfo@dec.ny.gov.

Avoid It Always stay away from blooms in surface waters. Never swim, fish, boat, wade or eat fish caught in areas with blooms. Bloom or no bloom, never drink, prepare food, cook, or make ice with untreated or improperly treated individual surface water supplies. During a bloom, individual surface water supplies should not be used for showering, bathing, or washing dishes even if treatment is provided. Public water supplies that draw water from surface water are treated, disinfected and monitored. The public would be notified if public water supplies are impacted by algal blooms.

Report It If you think that a bloom may be harmful and is present on Skaneateles Lake, the Onondaga County Health Department asks that you report it to the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Inspection Program at (315) 685-6486. If the bloom is present on another water body in Onondaga County, please report it to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) at HABsinfo@dec.ny.gov.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How is the public drinking water being monitored?

  • The City of Syracuse, the Onondaga County Health Department and the New York State Department of Health are monitoring the public drinking water for the presence of toxins associated with harmful algal blooms. Samples of the public drinking water are collected and sent to the New York State Department of Health laboratory on a regular basis during the harmful algal bloom season to determine if toxins are present.

If toxins associated with harmful algal blooms are in the public drinking water, is the water safe to drink?

  • The Onondaga County Health Department will notify the public when alternative water should be used for drinking, making infant formula, making ice, brushing teeth and preparing food.
  • The Onondaga County Health Department in consultation with the New York State Department of Health will issue necessary advisories for drinking water when levels exceed normal limits.

What could the effects on my health be if I drink public drinking water with toxins associated with harmful algal blooms above the levels set by the EPA?

  • Symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, skin, eye or throat irritation, allergic reactions or breathing difficulties may occur after drinking water with elevated levels of toxins associated with harmful algal blooms. These symptoms are very similar to symptoms from other gastrointestinal illnesses or allergic reactions. Stop drinking the water and seek medical attention if you or a family member experience these symptoms.
  • Gastroenteritis which may include diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, and liver and kidney damage have been reported in humans following short-term exposure to toxins associated with harmful algal blooms in drinking water. However, more research is needed to fully understand the health effects.

I’m pregnant (or planning to be). Will consuming the public drinking water toxins effect my unborn child?

  • There is limited information available in the scientific literature on the potential for health effects from ingesting microcystin, the primary toxin associated with Harmful Algal Blooms, during pregnancy.
  • The Onondaga County Health Department in consultation with the New York State Department of Health will advise pregnant women not to drink the water if levels exceed normal limits.

If I live near a lake experiencing a harmful algal bloom, is my private well water safe to drink, bathe, wash dishes, etc.?

  • If a private well is a properly installed drilled well, it is unlikely to be impacted by Harmful Algal Blooms present in the lake. If the well is a shallow well installed along the shore of a lake experiencing a harmful algal bloom, toxins associated with the bloom may be present in the well water. In-home treatments such as boiling, disinfecting water with chlorine or ultraviolet (UV), and water filtration units do not remove the toxins associated with harmful algal blooms. There are treatment units on the market that have been shown to reduce microcystin levels in water, but it is not known if the microcystins would be reduced to a level considered safe. Since individual water supplies are not regulated or monitored, it is not known if there is a health risk to drinking the water from your private well.

If I draw my water directly from the lake experiencing a bloom, is my water safe to drink, wash dishes, etc.?

  • Never drink untreated surface water, whether or not harmful algal blooms are present. At this time, even if the water is treated by in-home treatment units, DO NOT DRINK water drawn directly from the lake and DO NOT USE the water for making infant formula, making ice, brushing teeth, preparing food, and washing dishes when blooms are present. In-home treatments such as boiling, ultraviolet radiation (UV), and water filtration units do not remove the toxins associated with harmful algal blooms. There are treatment units on the market that have been shown to reduce microcystin levels in water, but it is not known if the microcystins would be reduced to a level considered safe. Since individual water supplies are not regulated or monitored, it is not known if there is a health risk to drinking the water from your private water supply.
  • The Onondaga County Health Department in consultation with the New York State Department of Health will advise those drawing water directly from Skaneateles Lake when testing shows undetectable levels of toxin in the Lake.

Can my children and pets play in the lake water if it is experiencing a harmful algal bloom?

  • People, pets, and livestock should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has floating scum on the surface. If contact does occur, rinse the exposed skin thoroughly with clean water.
  • Exposure to harmful algal blooms can be deadly for pets, especially if they drink water with harmful algal blooms or when they lick their fur after swimming in waters with harmful algal blooms.

What health effects can I expect to see if I was recreating in lake water experiencing a bloom?

  • Recreational exposures can occur while swimming, wading, fishing, or boating in areas with harmful algal blooms if this water is touched or swallowed, or when airborne droplets are inhaled. Exposure to harmful algal blooms can cause diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting; skin, eye, or throat irritation; and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties. Seek medical attention if you experience these symptoms after exposure to harmful algal blooms.

Have any health problems been reported by people after recreating in water bodies experiencing harmful algal blooms?

  • According to the New York State Department of Health, generally there have been infrequent reports of illnesses associated with recreational exposure to harmful algal blooms, and most of illnesses reported were minor. Since the symptoms from harmful algal bloom exposure are very similar to symptoms from other gastrointestinal illnesses or allergic reactions, we expect that bloom-related illnesses are under-reported.

What health effects may my pet experience if they were exposed to harmful algal blooms?

  • Symptoms for animals include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, excessive salivation or drooling, stumbling, seizures, convulsions, paralysis, disorientation, inactivity, excessive tiredness, fast heart rate and difficulty breathing. Seek veterinary care if your pet experiences these symptoms after exposure to harmful algal blooms.

What do harmful algal blooms look like? How will I be able to identify these blooms if I am on the lake?

  • Discolored water, often with a paint-like appearance, with or without floating scum or mats may be evidence of a Harmful Algal Bloom. Pictures of Harmful Algal Blooms can be found here: www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/81962.html
  • It is hard to tell a Harmful Algal Bloom from other non-harmful algae blooms. Therefore the Onondaga County Health Department recommends that you avoid wading, swimming, boating, and fishing in waterbodies that are discolored or has scum or floating mats present.

What should I do if I see a Harmful Algal Bloom on a body of water?

  • If you think that a bloom may be harmful and is present on Skaneateles Lake, the Onondaga County Health Department asks that you report it to the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Inspection Program at (315) 685-6486. If the bloom is present on another water body in Onondaga County, please report it to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) at HABsinfo@dec.ny.gov.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

From the Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA)       September 19, 2017

 Facts on Skaneateles Lake Blue Green Algal Bloom  (HAB or Harmful Algal Bloom)

September 2017

 Timeline:

1) Suspicious green algae were found suspended in water at the lakefront of a Skaneateles Lake Association( SLA )member at Widewaters, about 6 miles south on the East side of the lake on Tuesday, 9/12/17. This property owner notified the SLA by Email and a team of SLA Board members inspected the site.

This event did not appear very suspicious for a HAB as there was only a visible suspension of green particles in the water (this had been noticed before in recent years but usually was short lived ). However, this time a decision was made by Bob Werner and Buzz Roberts to go ahead and take samples just to be sure, since the SLA team had the equipment and expertise from participating in the statewide CSLAP lake monitoring program on a regular basis.

 2) The sample was sent to Greg Boyer’s Lab at ESF as directed by the DEC . Greg is a well known expert on HABs and runs one of the few labs capable of such analysis in the state. On Friday 9/15 the results revealed a positive indication of a HAB with elevated levels of blue-green algae (60 ug BGA-chl/liter), well above the DEC alert level of 10-20 ug BGA chl/liter. This was immediately reported to SLA Board  member, Dr. Bob Werner. Toxin testing available on Saturday, 9/16 showed an elevated microcystin level at 12 ug/L, at or slightly above the DEC alert threshold for recreational contact (swimming) and well above the level allowed in tap water.

 The same day there was widespread visible green scum along the lakeshore. This was quite worrisome since the original samples taken by the SLA appeared to be a dilute suspension of green particles in the water column which had not yet coalesced into a green scum or paint-like appearance on the surface of the water.

 Immediately, representatives from the SLA met with Rich Abbott at the City Water Dept. in Skaneateles and with the Skaneateles. Town Supervisor, Jim Lanning and  Town Clerk, Janet Aaron. Microcystis colonies were again confirmed in the City Lab with both Rich Abbott and Bob Werner examining another sample under the microscope brought in from Bob’s waterfront about 4-5 miles down on the West side.

 The County Health Dept. was notified along with the local media and Town and SLA websites to warn people not to swim or drink the lake water directly. Syracuse City residents and Skaneateles village residents that obtained their water through the City intakes were told it was OK to drink their tap water, as posted on Syracuse.com, that same day.

Additional samples were taken at the village pier and steps to the village swim area on Sat, 9/16 by the NY Federation of Lake Associations as directed by the DEC and were hand delivered to SUNY-ESF for testing. These samples also showed elevated levels of blue-green algae (400-600 ug BGA-chl/liter) and elevated levels of the liver toxin microcystins (120-170 ug/L). These numbers were reported in Sunday’s Syracuse.com. These microcystin levels were considerably higher than the original more dilute samples taken by the SLA team on  Tuesday 9/12.  Algal neurotoxins, occasionally found in other blooms in New York State, were not present in any of the Skaneateles Lake samples. Combined, the results indicated the presence of a toxic blue-green algae bloom (HAB) in Skaneateles Lake, potentially being accumulated along the shore by wind and wave action.

 3) Sunday, 9/16, visible inspection of the lake showed resolution of the confluent areas of green scum along the shoreline, at least by this observer, along the west and east shorelines south to about 7 miles. However, heavy green particle suspension was present all over and in mid- lake about 5-6 miles down even in deeper offshore waters. There were visible streaks  of greenish particles but not the actual layered scum on the surface that was visible just the day before. This had broken apart.

 Impacts of the bloom

Discussion with Dr. Greg Boyer 9/18 /17, Professor SUNY ESF

1) A toxic HAB event was confirmed for Skaneateles Lake. The algal species involved was 99% Microcystis aeruginosa and measured hepatotoxin (liver toxin) concentrations (microcystin) exceeded the levels for drinking water and recreational contact (swimming).

2) Drinking water obtained via the City intakes via the tap was considered to be safe. The allowable levels in tap water for the liver toxins are <0.3 for children and <1.6 for adults (10 day average), The City has a number of options available, including using a deep water intake, mixing the water with Lake Ontario water, flocculation of the cells, or the use of activated carbon for removal of the toxins from the water.

3) In contrast, residents who obtain their water directly from the lake should be using bottled water during the bloom event. Many local residents’ water intakes are located near shore, in shallow water (10 -20 feet) and do not have the technology to remove the cells and toxins from the water. Routinely, blooms mix at least to depths of 20 feet.

Residential UV light systems may kill the cells but not necessarily remove the toxins from the water. Residential activated carbon systems are also generally insufficient to remove the toxins unless the system is expensive (thousands of dollars) and properly maintained.  Point-of-use filters commonly found on sink taps are insufficient at removing the toxins. Filtration and reverse osmosis do not remove the toxins once they have been released from the cell but may be beneficial in keeping the cells (about 7 microns in size) themselves out of the residential system.

These toxins are not destroyed by heat (e.g., boiling water does not work) and use of chlorine is often complicated by the presence of other organic material in the water from the bloom. These microcystin toxins do linger in the lake water even after the visible bloom is gone but become more dilute and dissipate with time. They do not remain forever.

 4) Special care needs to be taken with pets. Levels above 100 ug/L in bloom events are in the “Dead Dog” range, according to Greg, where pets can die due to the toxins accumulating in the fur and the dog’s normal tendency to lick its fur to clean itself. Pet owners should wash off their pets with a garden hose if the animal has been swimming in green water, For more information regarding pets see http://www.seagrant.sunysb.edu/btide/pdfs/HABsFactSheet-0814.pdf.

5) Residents should avoid contact with all blooms and should not be swimming in any water where a bloom is present. The bloom will eventually go away and the water should be free of suspended green particles (usually weeks, not days) before resuming swimming or drinking the water.

A small fraction of the population (<1%) may also be allergic to contact with the bloom’s cells themselves (separate from the toxins). This may impact the use of the water for showering, washing of hands, dishes, or clothes using raw lake water during an active bloom event. The response is generally a skin rash.  Also, he does not recommend people who might be immunosuppressed from age, medication and/or disease use raw lake water for any of these activities during a time when a bloom might be present.

Discussion with Lisa Letteney, 9/18/17

Director of Environmental Health, Ononaga County Health Department: 

The City is actively monitoring the water at the intakes on Skaneateles Lake and also as the village trunk comes off the main after it exits the lake. She said  if anything changes the County/City will alert the public.

 We discussed some of the same issues brought up with Greg Boyer and she agreed to send out another Alert to keep the public informed and advice people not only on municipal water but also those who live on the lakeshore and draw directly from the lake.

We also discussed the possibility of setting up a Hotline # so in the future they could be immediately notified of a suspicious algal bloom and it can be immediately tested by the County/City authorities- so HABs aren’t missed! We were fortunate this time to have the SLA act proactively and discover it before the nasty green bloom appeared !

We both agreed that it’s important for the County Health Dept to stay in touch and advice accordingly since there seems to be much misinformation being dissipated along with misunderstanding of the issues involved with HABs.

Lisa agreed that subsequent Informational Alerts from the County Health Dept could be expected.

Submitted by:  Paul F. Torrisi,MD, President, SLA

 

Milfoil Boat Team and Stewards Working Full Time

Fran Rotunno Fish

This is a busy time of the year for the Milfoil Boat Team.  They are in the water rolling up the matting put down earlier in the season.  The first matting put down is the first matting taken up so that the Milfoil patches are matted for about 8 weeks.  This is hard work and very dependent on the weather.  If the lake gets rough, it becomes hard to see the bubbles from the submerged divers and keep the boat in position.  So there are days when work has to stop to ensure the safety of the crew.  The team rolls up on the mats in each area addressed this season.  When all the mats are rolled and piled up on the bottom of the lake, the Team returns with a different boat which is rigged to pick up the mats.  These rolls of mats are heavy because they have the metal cable sewn into them every 6 feet to keep them stable on the bottom of the lake and because they are wet!  Getting strapping around the rolls and then using a wench to lift them up and onto the boat for transport back to shore for winter storage live takes still, strength and patience.  Our lake community members all owe thanks to Keith Marsden, Jason Hole Victoria Zanicky, Sam Clymer and Liam Wilson for the great job they do under the direction of John Menapace.

Our Invasive Species Monitoring Steward Crew this summer included Elyse DuBois, Will Thomas, Griffin Dunn, Sara Signorelli, Jeremy Castle, Alex Frank, and Anna Denhoff.  As they make their way back to school and college we are pleased to have hired  adult stewards from the lake community with funds provided by the Central New York Community Foundation for this first year of an extended steward season.  Roy Truswell, Laurie Kenyon, John Colomb and Al Coon are joining the Steward Team and will be covering the DEC, Town of Skaneateles and Town of Scott boat launch sites along with Jeremy Castle who will help provide weekend coverage for the fall season.  Labor Day may be the “official” close of the season, but the lake remains open to many and our Steward coverage during the fall months is very important.

 Please thank the following individuals whose 2017 memberships and additional donations co-sponsored the Milfoil Boat for a day: Patricia Orr, Barbara & William Dean, Mary & Paul Torrisi, Deborah & James Tifft, Anonymous 18 (2 days), Kathleen & Daniel Mezzalingua, Paula White, Demetra Vounas, Jaime Tuozzolo, Pamela & Douglas Hamlin, Barbara & Jed Delmonico, Robert Congel, Ann Hinchcliff, Kate & Mont Pooley, Eleanor & Ben Ware, Patriia & Bill McAvoy, Maureen & Joe Wilson, Ursula & David Hutton, Deborah & Richard Hole, Lake Farms, John Priest & Lynne Boles, Lisa & Michael Wetzel, Donald Babcock & Carolyn Kaye, Noreen & Michael Falcone, Hobbitt Hollow Farm, Joyce & Robin Jowaisis, Jennifer Sutherland, Alice & Neal Houser, Patricia & David Stone, Judy & John Varney, Barbara & Myron Egtvedt, Ellie & Chet Benoit, Lynn Lenihan, Norma & David McCarthy, Elet & John Callahan, Janet & Donald Frank, Jill & Todd Marshall, Judy & Doug Robertson, Katherine & Lawrence Weiss, Cate & Sally, Goffe Cottage (Carla & David Goffe), Barbara & Kenneth Hearst, Marcia & Robert Hunt, Nancy Thomas & Chris Legg, Cynthia & William McCauley, Paula & Edward Conan, Celeste Gudas, Bettina & Tom Smallman, Joan & Michael Niswender, Charles O’Neal, Maureen & Don Plath, Linda Lavery, Jacqueline K. Bays & Joseph McCaffrey, Mason & Jane Howard, Kristine & Jeffrey Bogart, Susan & Bill Burch, Diana Coyne, Twin Birch Dairy (Karen & Dirk Young), Jolie & Scott Johnston, George Ann & Edwin Bock, Edward Nichols, Steve Mott, Randy Cobb & Jackie Brown, Kelly & Gregory Weaver, Heather & David Wheat, Karen & Chris Kreidler, Lynne & David Curtin, Gary Dower, Virgina & Gerard Shanley, Barbara Benedict & Duncan Wormer, Patricia Lynn Ford & Stevn Ford, Jane & Joseph Kite, Kuni & Patrick Riccardi, Margaret Bersani, Mary Socci & Peter White, Dr. Robert Vitkus, Shadowlawn Lakeshore Corporation, Susan & James Solomon, Anonymous 8, Judy & Philip Hiser, Maureen & Brian Harkins. Ann & David Lee.

Source:  Skaneateles Press