Blue Green Algae Updates
Blue Green Algae Drinking Water Information Print E-mail

USGS Kicks Off Innovative Project to Study Harmful Algal Blooms in New York

This week, USGS scientists are installing technologically advanced monitoring systems to study water-quality conditions and harmful algal blooms—known as HABs—in Owasco and Seneca lakes in New York. In the next several weeks, instrumentation will also be installed on Skaneateles Lake.

The USGS has invited local District Directors to observe as crews from the New York Water Science Center prepare equipment for installation on Seneca Lake on May 15, 2019.

HABs are a global concern in lakes, rivers and oceans. Most algal blooms are harmless, but in some cases, something is triggered to overwhelm the system, which leads to potentially harmful blooms. These blooms can be harmful to humans, animals, pets and aquatic ecosystems, and lead to impacts on the economy.

The USGS New York Water Science Center's monitoring effort will provide a better understanding of HAB growth and severity and allow for near instantaneous detection of changing water-quality conditions that might be indicative of HAB development. This will enable state officials, water resource managers, drinking water utilities, the public and others to make more informed decisions on how to deal with HABs and develop mitigation strategies.

This collaborative effort, funded by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the USGS, is in support of the state’s $65 million initiative to aggressively combat HABs in waterbodies across New York.


Blue Green Algae Drinking Water Information

The health of Skaneateles Lake is critical for maintaining a healthy and vibrant community. All of us who live within the Skaneateles Lake watershed and nearby areas are ultimately responsible for how well the lake survives.

With the appearance of harmful blue-green algae blooms within Skaneateles Lake, the Village is taking our responsibility for protecting this critical recourse seriously by investigating immediate, short and long-term measures that address our impact on the Lake.

Immediate actions:

  • The Skaneateles Department of Public Works does not and will not use fertilizers or herbicides on its municipally owned properties.
  • The Village website has devoted a page to information about blue-green algae which includes both sampling results of our drinking water and actions all residence can take to decrease our nutrient and sediment loads to the lake.
  • Information on decreasing residential nutrient loads to our Lake and waterways will also be provided through our November Village electric/water bills. 

Short-term actions:

  • The Skaneateles Village Board, with the recommendation of the Village’s Municipal Board has tasked our Village Engineers to investigate options for treating our public water supply to ensure it provides drinking water free from Cyanobacteria and Cyanotoxins to our residents.
  • The Village Office staff is collecting e-mail addresses of residents who would like to stay informed through e-mails on the blue-green algae situation, as well as other important information the Village would like to provide to its residents.
  • The Village will be working with the Town of Skaneateles to devote a page of their newsletter to Village Communication beginning in the new year.

Long-term actions

  • The Village is and will be reviewing potential educational efforts, infrastructure modifications and zoning and zoning enforcement policies and regulations, which will ultimately reduce our nutrient and sediment load to the lake.
  • We will continue to cooperate with the City of Syracuse, and other municipalities in the Skaneateles Lake Watershed, not-for-profit organizations to monitor and address this situation.


Village Public Drinking Water System

The Village and Town of Skaneateles are continuing to work closely with the New York State Department of Health, the Onondaga County Department of Health, and the City of Syracuse in monitoring the water quality of Skaneateles Lake.   Samples collected by the City of Syracuse from the finished water distributed in the Village and Town municipal water system indicated non-detectable levels of the toxins associated with the algal bloom.  

The Village is working closely with our engineer, GHD, to develop immediate and long term plans for updating the Village Drinking Water System to be able to adequately treat future blooms that exceed health advisory levels.  A copy of the presentation that was given to the Village Municipal Board can be found here: 9-28-17 Presentation on Blue-Green Algae  The Village has commissioned GHD to complete an alternatives analysis and make recommendation for the appropriate upgrades to the Village Water Treatment Plant to ensure we have a solution in place before summer 2018.

Additional information on Blue Green Algae can be found:

 Information regarding private intakes on Skaneateles Lake is available from Onondaga County:


DOH Sampling for Blue Green Microcystins

A comprehension diagram with all sampling results starting from 9/18/17 up to the most resent results can be found on the Onondaga County Department of Health Website:

Joint Statements are no longer being released as sampling has been reduced to twice a week.   Archives of press releases from the 2017 Algae Bloom can be found here: Archived Press Releases


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