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

A Report from the Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA)


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 OCWA were told it was OK to drink their tap water, as posted on, 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 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, 2/16, 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 OCWA 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), OCWA 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

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,                            Onondaga 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


Potentially Toxic Algae Blooms

A potentially toxic strain of blue green algae has been confirmed on Skaneateles Lake.  Further tests will be completed next week to determine the level of toxicity.  People and their pets are cautioned about swimming or drinking the water until further testing is completed.


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





Fran Rotunno Fish

On July 29th, watercraft inspectors from the Adirondack Watershed Institute, found what appeared to be Hydrilla on the trailer of a Personal Watercraft that was going to be launched into upper Saranac Lake.  Paul Smith’s College’s Adirondack Watershed Institute confirmed the approximately twelve-inch strand was hydrilla.  The owner reported that the PWC and trailer had last been in the Potomac River in Maryland.

Hydrilla, commonly known as Eurasian Milfoil on steroids can grow up to an inch a day and it forms floating mats of vegetation on the water surface that can become so dense that they block recreational activities such as boating, paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing and swimming.  The resulting change in a body of water impacts recreational use of the water and as a result impacts the economy that the body of water supports.  To paraphrase an article written by Paul Torrisi last year ….if you think Milfoil is bad, hope that you never see Hydrilla in Skaneateles Lake!

This close call in the Adirondacks SUPPORTS the need for every dollar that the Skaneateles Lake Association has put into having our Invasive Species Monitoring Stewards at launches on Skaneateles Lake.

This close call SUPPORTS the decision of the Board of Directors of the Skaneateles Lake Association to expand the “season” for our Stewards so that we start them in April and keep them in place through October or longer.  The expansion of the Steward “season” is being made possible this fall and spring by a grant from the Central New York Community Foundation.

Hopefully, in order to continue the expansion of the Steward “season”, this close call, SUPPORTS a clear understanding of the importance of membership in the SKANEATELES LAKE ASSOCIATION on the part of all those who live on the lake; boat, swim, kayak, sail or paddle the lake; fish the lake; drink the lake water; are in a business that thrives because of the lake and those who just l the lake.

Hopefully, this close call SUPPORTS a decision for every single one of them to go to and join TODAY.

Please thank the following members whose additional donations in 2016 funded our 2017 workplan as sponsors of the two Milfoil Boats, an Invasive Species Monitoring Steward or contributors to the Hardy Fund which also supports our Steward Program.

Milfoil Boat Co-sponsors:  Donna & Raymond Kurlak, Merrily & Gerhart Heyer, Camille & Thomas Porter,

Steward Sponsors:  JoDean & Timothy Orcutt, Merrily & Gerhart Heyer, William Gilbane, Laura & Sean O’Keefe, Joanne Viggiano & Kenneth Cannon, Maria & Paul Christou.

Hardy Fund Contributors:  Margaret Sennett, Barbara & Robert Amsler, Janet & Lawrence Ruston, Janet & Dennis Stratton, Mary & Ed Blum, The Kelly Family.

Please thank the following members whose additional donations in 2017 have funded our 2017 workplan as sponsors of our Invasive Species Monitoring Stewards:  Katherine Cogswell & Walter Benson, Dessa & William Bergen, Martha & William Cole, Barbara & William Dean, Fouad & Michael Dietz, Marilyn & D. W. Edington, Lisa Letizia & Paul Floreck, Joanna & Gianfranco Frittelli, Louise & Robert Ganley, Jacqueline & Charles Giancola, Marie & Joseph Grasso, The Hardy Family, Sheila Hemami, Patty & Jim Hertz, Jean Shook & Chris Johnson, Beverly & David Jones, Ann Kilian, Jonathan Lee, The Mandana Barn (Heather & Tim Carroll), Nancy & James Marquardt, Mary Marshall, Alison Rutter & David Mayhew, Scott McClurg, Elaine & Mathew Medwid, Patricia Orr, Christine & Robert Pierce, Karen Yuhas & Kevin Riley, Pam & Ed Riley, Joanne Dusel & Scott Sayles, Kristopher Scholl, Julie Scuderi, Cynthia & Nicholas Signorelli, Helen & Keith Simonelli, Deborah & James Tifft, Mary & Paul Torris, Jean & John Vincent, Racquel & James Vlassis, Jen & Bill Warning, Jo & Bob Werner.:

Source:  Skaneateles Press



From the SLA: A grade of 92 percent

Fran Rotunno                     

If a student came home with a report card that indicated she/he had received a grade of 92% on the high school physics regents, I would imagine the parents would be very happy. Hopefully, they would also be aware that that grade came with a lot of hard work and commitment on the part of their child and maybe even take a little (rightfully deserved) credit for giving the child the foundation for the work ethic it took to get that 92%.

Those in the community who attended the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Skaneateles Lake Association were able to see a series of 6 posters with information about the SLA….including the poster on the SLA’s use of funding which showed that 92% of the funds that are received by the SLA go directly to providing the direct services and programs that we provide to meet our mission and achieve our goals. That is an incredible accomplishment!

The SLA Board of Directors works very hard and provides hours of volunteer time to achieve that 92% grade, but the Board is very aware that a large number of others help us to achieve that 92% use of funding for direct services and programs. Those people and businesses are also Stewards of the Lake and we could not achieve that 92% without them. They need to be proud of themselves and the Lake Community needs to recognize them for their role in the 92% grade the SLA has achieved.

Our 2017 Annual Meeting was a great educational and social event and a great example of how our community’s commitment to the Lake enables the SLA Board to achieve that 92% grade. It was made possible by the contributions of many in the community including: Bill and Janet Stinson for the beautiful venue and the tent; Mary Menapace who joined the Board in setting up the location; The Sherwood Inn, Johnny Angel’s, The Lake House Pub, The Blue Water Grill, Gilda’s, Doug’s Fish Fry, Oliver’s, Moro’s Kitchen, Rosalie’s, Joelle’s French Bistro, The Krebs, Skaneateles Bakery, Valentine’s, Colonial Lodge, White Birch Vineyards, Anyela’s and the Village Bottle Shop for the food and beverages; Salli Tuozzolo, Jo Werner, Dessa Bergen, Kim Driscoll and Mary Torrisi for the cookies; Deb Tifft for the cucumber water; Ann Kilian, Kathy Gorr, Deb Tifft, Carol Stokes-Cawley, Peg Kelly, Matt Delmonico, Debbie Paduda, Paul Torrisi Jr., Alex Giambartolomei, Don Plath, Steve White, Charlie McElroy, J. D. Delmonico, Patrick Delmonico, Mike Kelly, Ron Dippold, Ham Fish, Steve Mott and Joe Paduda who served the food and drink; Mary Gardner, Jo Werner, Mary Menapace, Marion Krauter, Mary Kendrick Gafney, Berverlee Akerblom, Anita Strods, Bobbie Dean and Claire Howard who registered folks as they arrived, and all those who stayed on to help clean up along with Steve White who took care of transporting the garbage. This is the kind of volunteer community commitment that it takes to get that grade of 92%. Every single one of these individuals is a member of the SLA and every single one of them is a Steward of the Lake.

The Milfoil Team has started to take up the mats that they put down earliest in the season and our Invasive Species Monitoring Stewards are continuing to help those who come to launch to understand the NYS Clean, Drained and Dry Law and ensure   watercraft are free of plant and animal material before launching. The Board has ordered new signs to ensure the law is made very clear to those come to launch on Skaneateles Lake and the board is working on developing a new video that can be used on our website and other media that makes clear the importance of protecting the lake and how those who come to the lake can be a part of the protection program.

If you live on the lake; if you boat, swim, kayak, sail or paddle the lake; if you fish the lake; if you drink the lake water; if the lake draws customers to your business; or if you just love the lake, shouldn’t you be a member of the Skaneateles Lake Association? Join us today at or call 315-685-9106 for a Registration Form & Mailing Envelope to be sent to you.

Please thank the following members whose additional donations in 2016 funded our 2017 workplan as sponsors of an Invasive Species Monitoring Steward or contributors to the Hardy Fund which also supports our Steward Program.

Invasive Species Monitoring Steward Sponsors: Jacqueline & David Eng, Diane & Duane Wiedor, Gwen Birchenough, Karlene & William Miller, Laurie & Alan Hahl, Nancy Peck, Diane Forney & Kevin Procter, Mary Pat & Dan Suits, Lynn Bonniver, Patricia & Bill Texeira, Locust Lane Association, Donna & Raymond Kurlak, Anonymous #7.

Contributors to the Hardy Fund: Elizabeth & Joseph Wood, Lou & Mark Bitz, Anne Buehler, Nancy & Bob Schattner, JoDean & Timothy Orcutt.


Source: Skaneateles Press




From the SLA: Moving ahead on our work plan for the season

The season thus far has given us some challenges with the weather, but we are pleased to be able to report some significant progress in our workplan for the season.

John Menapace put his giant sewing machine to work to complete the assembly of the additional acre of matting that we wanted to have. As a result, the Milfoil Team has put down 6 acres of matting over the larger milfoil patches identified in the Fall 2016 survey done by Bob Werner. The Milfoil Team used a second boat to deliver mats to the sites being addressed while the “dive boat” with its team was on site doing the work of putting the mats down.

Our 2017 annual membership campaign is in full force and we are pleased to see that we have registered about 50 “new to the SLA” annual memberships. There continue to be far too many who are not SLA annual members who significantly benefit from the lake as a value base for their lakefront or lake rights property, a source of recreation or rest, an attraction for a customer base for all types of business and services and, of course a source of drinking water. We plan to continue to reach out to those people and businesses. We are very pleased that following our annual meeting a few people stepped up to take on the responsibility for reaching to specified groups of potential members. Over the past few weeks we have sent reminders to those whose memberships were due to be renewed in the first half of the year who have not yet done so. Getting them onboard as annual members for 2017 could have a significant impact on our total membership and…… membership MATTERS. It is our major source of income for all that we plan to do and the size of our membership gives credence to both governmental agencies and potential grant funding source agencies from whom we seek funding for special projects.

A group of young people under the direction of our new board member, Debbie Bobbett, wanted to make the best of their summer and they stated a small business called “Live Love Lake” committing to donate their proceeds to the SLA. You might have seen them at their tent in front of the Packwood House on Community Days. They defined the SLA as “a group of people who help clean and preserve our beautiful lake” and they ask the community to imagine what the lake would look like without the SLA. These young people, like Erica and Ken Byrne, who have worked for years to help support the SLA, set a standard for all members of the lake community to follow…get involved, join in.

Many of our members make additional donations to specifically support specific aspects of our work plan. We are slowly working towards the financial stability where we are able to put the funds we collect in the 2nd half of the year towards the funding we will need the next year. This leaves us feeling secure to make plans for the following year knowing that we will have the funds to pay contracts and buy supplies and equipment.

Please thank the following members whose additional donations in 2016 funded our 2017 workplan as sponsors or co-sponsors of the two Milfoil Workboats.


Sponsors of a Milfoil Boat for a Day: The Allyn Foundation, Paul & Karen Black, Joseph & Katherine Compagni, John Coughlin, Craig & Barbara Froelich, Holy Gregg & Patience Brewster, Lindsay Groves, Thomas & Jane Hanley, Joe & Mary Ellen Hennigan, Peter & Jane Hueber, David & Sherill Ketchum, John & Kimberly Mezzalingua, John Macallister & Laurel Moranz, John & Elizabeth McKinnell, Gardner & Lynn McLean, Richard & Alexandra Nicklas, Ted & Nancy Norman, Dan & Linda Roche, Joseph & Lynn Romano, Carl Schram & Ellen Brown, Angelo & Margaret Scopelianos, Winding Way Association, Frank Suits, Donald & Chancea Sundman, Richard & Nancie Way, The Dwight D. Winkelman Foundation, Doug Wood & Barbara Conner.


Co-sponsors of the Milfoil Boat for a Day: Eric Allyn & Margaret O’Connell, John & Dawn Altmeyer, Joseph & Deborah Augustine, Peter & Annette Becker, Eugenia Brieva, Ken & Erica Byrne, William & Deborah Delaney, Anonymouus19, Thomas Eshelman, Bob & Beth Filczkcwski, Tom & Carol Fletcher, Joseph & Mary Gaffney, Paul & Jane Garrett, William & Marybeth Gleason, David & Carla Goffe, Tim & Illlyssa Green, Greenfield Lane Association, Lorraine Gudas, Dana & Susan Hall, Douglas & Pamela Hamlin, Brian & Maureen Harkins, Kenneth & Barbara Hearst, Philip & Judy Hider, Robert & Marcia Hunt, Bruce & Linda Kenan, Richard & Mary Kokosa, Richard & Shelly Kraetz, Chris & Karen Kreidler, Chris Lett & Nancy Thomas, Gary & Mary Jane Lowery, Ross Martin & Dr. Deborah Blazey-Martin, David & Norma McCarthy, William & Cynthia McCauley, Steve Mott, Randy Cobb & Jackie Brown, Patty Orr, Dan & Lisa Riordan, Doug & Judy Robertson, Kurt & Jill Russell, John & Marion Rotondo, Russell & Linda Ruthig, Charles Ryan & Eileen Murphy, Gerard & Virginia Shanley, The Sherwood Inn, Paul & Genevieve Suits, Ben & Kathleen Tarantino, Ten Mile Point South Cottage Homeowners Association, Cynthia Dietz Tracy, Ralph & Patricia Troisi, Jaime Tuozzolo, Gary & Ann Tyndall, Leah Valenti, John & Judy Varney, Dr. Robert Vitkus, Gregory & Kelly Weaver, Lawrence & Katharine Weiss, Westside Lake Association, David & Heather Wheat, Patricia Woodcock, Eric Yopes & Amelia Kaymen.


Source: Skaneateles Press