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DEC: No swimming in Kinderhook Lake

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    Carly Miller/Columbia-Greene Media Kinderhook Lake on Monday afternoon.
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    Carly Miller/Columbia-Greene Media Kinderhook Lake by the boat launch Monday afternoon.
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    Kinderhook Lake view from Hawley Road.
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    Health advisory sign by the Kinderhook Lake Corporation, on Parker Hall Road, on Monday.
July 2, 2018 03:30 pm Updated: July 3, 2018 05:11 am

KINDERHOOK — Swimmers should avoid Kinderhook Lake after harmful blooms of algae were detected in the water, according to a report from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

DEC test samples taken on June 26 confirmed the presence of cyanobacteria, a harmful algae bloom, in the lake.

As of Monday, the algal bloom is not believed to be lakewide, but is concentrated in one area, which means the bloom affects many properties within an entire cove along a large segment of the shoreline, or in a specific region of the water body, according to the report.

Despite the warnings, some lakeside residents took to the water Monday, cooling off as a heat wave brought near-record temperatures to the region.

“It doesn’t keep us out of the water,” said Dennis Shields, of Kinderhook, after stepping off a Jet Ski near the boat launch. “People have roots around here and are passionate about the lake. Everyone wants to see improvements with the algae.”

Shields saw DEC representatives taking water samples for algae testing recently while he was fishing, he said, noting the DEC strategically cuts seaweed in certain areas to protect fish and turtle eggs.

Three samples — two near the outlet and one near the northwesternmost shore — were tested in the lake last week as part of the DEC’s report. All were confirmed to have levels above the DEC threshold for a confirmed bloom, according to the DEC.

Exposure to the bloom by touching, swallowing or inhaling could cause diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting, and skin, eye or throat irritation, according to the DEC.

The lake is privately owned and managed by the Kinderhook Lake Corporation, Kinderhook Town Supervisor Patrick Grattan said.

“I have no recollection of this happening before,” Grattan said.

The Kinderhook Lake Corporation treats the water with copper sulfate to reduce numbers of blue green algae and ward off algal blooms, said Bill Cleary, president of the Kinderhook Lake Corporation, a nonprofit steward of the lake.

The corporation treated the water Monday evening, June 25, and bloom counts have dropped since the DEC sampling last Tuesday.

“The water clarity is good,” he said. “Activities should be in the normal range for the 4th of July.”

Cleary urges residents to check the KLC website, take precautions and make their own decisions when it comes to swimming in the lake.

“We’re trying to be proactive, we don’t want to see harm come to anybody,” he said. “The copper sulfate treatment has seemingly had a good effect and it’s clearing up.”

There are no public swimming points on the lake. Kinderhook Lake is mostly used for boating and fishing, but residents still swim off their docks, said Bernie Kelleher, first vice president of the Kinderhook Lake Corporation.

While swimmers should avoid areas specified by the DEC where Harmful Algal Blooms, or HABs, are present, much of the 375-acre lake is safe, Kelleher said. Signs were posted warning residents around the lake of the bloom by the Kinderhook Lake Corporation.

“It’s really just where the blooms are, you just avoid certain areas,” Kelleher said.

Events listed for the Fourth of July on the Kinderhook Lake Corporation’s website, like the Kayak rally and boat parade, will go on as planned, Kelleher said.

The DEC is urging people to stay away from discolored water, foul-smelling water, pond scum or foam. If people or pets come into contact with blooms, they should rinse the area off with clean water.

Harmful algal blooms may appear as if pea soup or green paint was spilled into the waterway,” according to the DEC.

Algal blooms can form with an excess of nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, and can be exacerbated by hot weather, sunlight and stagnant water, according to the DEC’s website.

No previous appearances of harmful algal blooms at Kinderhook Lake were reported .

Algal bloom warning signs from the Kinderhook Lake Corporation were spotted at the lake’s boat launch and near Parker Hall Road on Monday, and in their spring 2018 newsletter.

“I like how the DEC is trying to handle it in a way that’s best for the lake,” Kelleher said. “But they should have a proactive step to communicate with people who use the lake. There are a thousand boats on the water during Fourth of July. The report says no swimming but I bet people will still swim.”

The lake looked cleaner Monday than usual, said Tyler Zeh of Niverville.

“This is the only real lake you can come and put a boat on,” Zeh said.

Algal blooms worry homeowner Donna Hudson, who lives on the Kinderhook Lake for the summer and spends the rest of her time in Florida, where persistent algae blooms cause respiratory problems.

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“We haven’t gone swimming here yet this summer,” she said Monday. “But [algal blooms] would keep me out of the water.”

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.