Skip to main content

County Services           How Do I?     

HABs Alert: Harmful Algal Blooms in Tompkins County

(Ithaca, N.Y. June 24, 2024) – Tompkins County Whole Health (TCWH) is alerting the community that cyanobacterial blooms, also known as HABs (Harmful Algal Blooms), have recently been reported in 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. 

TCWH urges residents and visitors to beware 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.

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.

Identifying HABs:

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:
  • 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. To stay alert to blooms occurring on Cayuga Lake, check the Cayuga Lake HABs Reporting Page on CSI’s website at:

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has a map of reported HABs across the State here:  

Report any HAB-related health symptoms to the NYS Health Department at and call your healthcare provider.

Learn more about HABs online at:

Tompkins County Whole Health envisions a future where every person in Tompkins County can achieve wellness. Find us online at, and follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter at @TCWholeHealth. Get Whole Health updates or other county announcements via email or text, sign up here.

Media contact: Shannon Alvord,