Schenectady County

Duanesburg lakes have harmful algae blooms

Public shouldn't drink lake water
Andrew and William Thiessen, of Schenectady, at Mariaville Lake August 24, 2013.
Andrew and William Thiessen, of Schenectady, at Mariaville Lake August 24, 2013.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

DUANESBURG — Harmful algae blooms have been detected in both Mariaville Lake and Duane Lake, two well-known recreation spots in western Schenectady County.

The notification issued by the town of Duanesburg on Wednesday means people, pets and livestock should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has algae scum on the surface. It also means people should not drink the water.

There have been a number of outbreaks of harmful algae blooms in upstate lakes in recent years, prompting new state efforts to address the issue. Both of the Duanesburg lake outbreaks were confirmed last week through laboratory testing.

Duanesburg Town Supervisor Roger Tidball said the town put the information on its website to help spread the word, but the town isn’t responsible for addressing the situation. While there are different kind of algae, he said “Anytime you hear the words ‘a bloom’ and ‘lake’ together, it’s not good.”

He estimated about a quarter of households around the lakes — with about 200 residents in total — normally take drinking water from the lakes.

Most algae seen on ponds and lakes is harmless, but certain types — including the blue-green algae found in Mariaville and Duane lakes — can produce toxins that are harmful to humans and animals. Such blooms occur most frequently in nutrient-rich waters during hot, calm weather, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Mariaville Lake has some previous history of toxic algae blooms, while Duane Lake has had fewer problems, according to a DEC database. Both lakes are surrounded by private homes, though Mariaville Lake sees more recreational boating use.

Exposure to blooms and toxins can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, or skin, eye or throat irritation and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties, DEC said. The Schenectady County Health Department has received no reports of illnesses related to algae blooms, said county spokesman Joe McQueen.

There are currently 57 New York state lakes with confirmed or suspected harmful blooms, including Moreau Lake in Saratoga County. The public beach at Moreau Lake State Park has been closed twice in recent weeks, but it reopened last weekend after testing showed it was clear, according to the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The only other body of water in the Capital Region with current harmful algae blooms is Washington Park Pond in Albany, according to the DEC.

In June, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a statewide action plan to address harmful algae blooms, including such ideas as upgrading septic and sewer systems to reduce the amount of nutrients running into lakes. Nitrogen and phosphorus from septic systems and fertilizer runoff are typical sources, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Hot weather and heavy rainfall — the kind of weather the region has experienced much of this summer — are believed to contribute to nutrient runoff and algae blooms.

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.


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