Primary funding for the Harmful Algal Bloom Response Plan is provided by donations to the SLA. Donate today!
Harmful algal blooms (HABs) in freshwater (lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams) generally consist of visible patches of cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae. Cyanobacteria are naturally present in low numbers in most aquatic (freshwater and/or marine) systems. Under certain conditions, including adequate nutrient (e.g., phosphorus) availability, warm temperatures, and calm winds, cyanobacteria may multiply rapidly and form blooms that are visible on the surface of the affected waterbody. Several types of cyanobacteria can produce toxins and other harmful compounds that can pose health risks to people and animals through ingestion, skin contact, or inhalation.
“So, how do we prevent blooms? The only thing we can do is [reduce] nutrients. This is why there is a big focus on preventing nutrients from coming into the lake.” – Dr. Greg Boyer, SUNY ESF
In 2017, a lake-wide HAB turned the entire lake green prompting development of SLA’s Harmful Algal Bloom Response Plan. The plan focuses on programs to help prevent nutrient-loading in the lake such as:
- Watershed Improvement Projects
- Research & Monitoring
- Education & Community Outreach
You can read more detail about these projects in our 2023 Special Report.
Skaneateles Lake participates in the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation HAB Surveillance Program. Over 30 residents have been trained in identifying and sampling HABs, are monitoring the lake weekly and coordinating response to reports of suspicious blooms from the public. SLA documents the occurrence of HABs, reports them to the NYSDEC, and informs the community of HABs locations on our website and social media channels with strategies to avoid them.
- Frequently Asked Questions -NYSDOH
- Blue-green Algae and Health – NYSDOH
- Blue-Green Algae – Onondaga County Health Department
- Skaneateles Lake Water Sample Test Results – NYSDOH
- Blue-green Algae – Beach Operator Fact Sheet
- Harmful Algal Bloom Notifications Page – NYSDEC
- Cyanotoxins in Drinking Water – USEPA
- Harmful Algal Blooms Photo Gallery – NYSDEC
- Harmful Algal Blooms -USEPA
- Health Information – USEPA
- Harmful algal bloom toxins key questions and answers – USEPA
- Monitoring and Responding to Cyanobacteria and Cyanotoxins in Recreational Waters – USEPA
- Recommendations for Public Water Systems to Manage Cyanotoxins in Drinking Water – USEPA