SARATOGA COUNTY – A harmful algae bloom was recently reported in Saratoga Lake.
The harmful algae bloom, or HAB, was reported earlier this month through the New York Algal Bloom System.
“Blooms have been reported on Saratoga Lake regularly since 2013,” DEC Division of Water Section Chief Alexander Smith said. “The frequency and duration of blooms are difficult to predict. Blooms are more likely to occur as temperatures increase during the summer and early fall.”
HABs have been monitored closely throughout the state since 2012 according to an announcement from the Department of Environmental Conservation. The DEC considers cyanobacteria blooms to represent a risk. DEC suggests people and animals avoid contact with visible blooms regardless of the documentation of the presence of toxins.
“There is a general increase in the number of waterbodies with blooms reported to DEC,” Smith said. “Partly due to increased public awareness about this issue and people learning about DEC’s reporting and notification process NYHABS”
July 16 someone reported a bloom to DEC and took a photo of Saratoga Lake which is on the DEC website Saratoga Lake district administrator Cristina Connolly said.
“Plan of action is that if somebody feels that there is an algae bloom you just avoid it all together,” Connolly said. So they did not come and do further testing, but it was reported on the sixteenth. ”
Algae blooms can occur on the lake when it gets hot and humid Connolly said.
“We don’t even know if that day on the sixteenth was a harmful algae bloom,” Connolly said.
“Its nothing new,” Connolly said. “Algae blooms have been around since the beginning of time. Its part of the environment. It can be healthy for a lake, but when it becomes harmful, where the cyanobacteria outcompetes with the other bacteria in an algae bloom then it can become harmful. And those are the photos you see where it looks like thick green paint swirls in the water.”
The lake gets more boat traffic and has more people living around it now than previously Connoly said. She explained most harmful algae growth is stimulated by fertilizer, runoff from properties, and excess amounts of nutrients in the water.
“What we are trying to advise residents around the lake is to avoid fertilizers near the water,” Connolly said. “Plant vegitative buffers on your property abutting the lake so that when it does rain all the nutrients from from your lawn don’t run off into the lake and measures of that sort.”
Algae blooms are typically close to shore in areas where there is not much wind or wave movement Connolly said. She explained the best thing to do if a person thinks they see an algae bloom is to report it and avoid it.
HABs can lead to illness according to a Saratoga Lake Protection and Improvement District newsletter. When the cyanobacteria becomes visibly dense and outcompetes other organisms it can become a threat to humans and animals. HABs have the potential to clog fish gills, smother vegetation and remove all oxygen from the surrounding water and can potentially contaminate drinking water according to the SLPID. It can become potentially deadly to small animals and pets and can cause sickness in people.
Exposure to cyanobacteria HABs can cause health effects in people and animals when water with HABs is touched, swallowed, or if airborne droplets are inhaled according to the DEC. Exposure to HABs and toxins can cause diarrhea, nausea or vomiting; skin, eye or throat irritation and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties. The DEC recommends people and pets avoid contact with HABs and should rinse off with clean water if contact occurs.
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