Harmful Algae Bloom FAQ
HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOM (HABs) / Cyanotoxins – FAQ
1- What are HABS or Toxic Algae? Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, naturally occur in surface waters. Under certain conditions such as warmer water temperatures and increased nutrients (primarily nitrogen and phosphorus) cyanobacteria are able to grow rapidly, producing “blooms” referred to as harmful algal blooms or HABs. HABs can produce toxins known as cyanotoxins, which can be harmful to humans and animals. Conventional water treatment can generally remove intact cyanobacterial cells and low levels of cyanotoxins from source waters.
2- Are they dangerous? Harmful blue-green algae blooms have begun occurring more readily in surface waters throughout New York State. Contact with water with blue-green algae and their toxins can cause health effects. Symptoms include diarrhea, nausea or vomiting; skin, eye or throat irritation; and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties. Animal illnesses and deaths also have occurred when animals consumed large amounts of accumulated algal scum from along shorelines or when animals groomed blue-green algal scums from their fur.
3- Are HABS in my drinking water? Seneca Lake is susceptible to harmful algal blooms which adversely impact recreational use of the lake and potentially its use as a drinking water source. Testing at the Water Treatment Plant in 2019 were all negative. We are testing throughout the HAB season again in 2020 and have a Management Plan in place that will notify the public through multiple means in the event of a positive test for HABs at the Water Treatment Plant.
4- Should I be concerned about HABs? You can feel confident that the City is doing all that it can concerning HABs in your drinking water as well as in our lakes. Through Water Testing, Daily checks for HABs from a large team of observers around Seneca Lake as well as participation with the Seneca / Keuka 9 Element Plan. The public will be notified in the event of a public health hazard.
5- Where are the HAB’s exactly in NY State? https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/83310.html
Thank you to our Water Treatment Plant team for putting these together.