(Ithaca, N.Y. June 30, 2023) – Tompkins County Whole Health is alerting the community that blue-green algae blooms, also known as HABs (Harmful Algal Blooms), have recently been reported in northern portions of Cayuga Lake and monitoring is continuing. These blooms may be small in size and confined to specific areas of the shoreline and bays, though they can form in open waters as well. Areas where blooms are not observed can continue to be used for recreational use.
Tompkins County Whole Health urges residents and visitors to be aware of HABs. These blooms can occur in any calm body of water and may produce toxins that are harmful to people and animals. Do not drink the water and avoid contact with the water if it appears discolored or has an unpleasant odor. Do not allow pets to swim in water where suspicious cyanobacteria blooms are present. Hot weather and intense rain and runoff events can lead to an increase in the presence of HABs.
- It might be cyanobacteria if you see: strongly colored water, paint-like appearance, blue-green oily swirls, parallel green streaks, floating mats or scum.
- View these images for examples: dec.ny.gov/chemical/81962.html
- View this video for more information about identifying HABs: youtube.com/watch?v=8nL_s77FV-o
- For more information about cyanobacteria blooms, please visit the Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring Page on the Community Science Institute’s (CSI’s) website: communityscience.org/volunteer/harmful-algal-bloom-monitoring/
If contact occurs with suspicious HABs:
- Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove cyanobacteria.
- Rinse dogs that may have gone in the water, so they do not lick their coats. Dry the dog thoroughly. If the dog has drank any of the water, contact veterinarian for assistance. Click here for more information on the risks HABs present to dogs: dec.ny.gov/docs/water_pdf/habspets.pdf
- Stop using the water and seek medical attention immediately if symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, skin, eye or throat irritation, allergic reactions or breathing difficulties occur after drinking or having contact with blooms or untreated surface water.
The Community Science Institute (CSI), Cayuga Lake Watershed Network, and Discover Cayuga Lake lead a volunteer program to monitor the Cayuga Lake shoreline for HABs during the summer months. If you'd like to contribute to the HABs monitoring program yourself, please contact Grace Haynes at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
To stay alert to blooms occurring on Cayuga Lake, check the Cayuga Lake HABs Reporting Page on CSI’s website at: database.communityscience.org/hab
The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has a map of reported HABs across the State: Click here.
HABs can also be present in smaller ponds. Residents who have private ponds should monitor their ponds for signs of blooms and avoid contact. Residents may contact Tompkins County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) for guidance on pond management and a possible site visit to view the suspicious bloom. If a private resident is interested in testing a bloom, please contact the Community Science Institute (607-257-6606) to determine testing options and fees.
Report HAB-related sightings and symptoms:
- If you see a suspicious bloom in Cayuga Lake, stay out of the water and report the sighting to the Cayuga Lake HABs Monitoring Program by emailing HABsHotline@gmail.com.
- If you see a suspicious bloom in another public body of water, stay out of the water and report the sighting to the NYSDEC by filling out and submitting a Suspicious Algal Bloom Report Form: Click here. Email HABSInfo@dec.ny.gov if you are unable to complete the form.
- Report any HAB-related health symptoms to the NYS Health Department at email@example.com and call your healthcare provider.
Learn more about HABs online at: tompkinscountyny.gov/health/habs.
Media contact: Shannon Alvord, firstname.lastname@example.org