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DEC: Watch for algae blooms in water bodies

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    A suspicious algae bloom that is being monitored by the state Department of Environmental Conservation at the Basic Creek Reservoir in Albany County. The bloom was first reported June 28.
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    The state Department of Environmental Conservation is asking those enjoying outdoor recreation this summer to keep an eye open for suspicious-looking algae that could pose potential health risks to people and animals.
August 16, 2019 06:01 pm

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is asking recreationalists to be on the lookout for harmful algae blooms that can be hazardous to the health of people and pets.

Blooms typically appear in mid-August. Touching, swallowing and inhaling the toxic blooms are dangerous for both humans and their four-legged friends, the DEC warns.

People should avoid swimming, boating, otherwise recreating in, or drinking water with a bloom, according to a statement issued by the DEC.

High levels of the blooms are linked to breathing difficulties, allergic reactions and vomiting. In pets, the algae can cause liver damage, respiratory paralysis and organ failure.

No blooms have been reported in Greene County so far this year. But in Columbia County, a suspicious algae bloom was found in a small, localized area in Trachtman Pond in Gallatin on July 14, and is being monitored by the DEC.

In nearby Wilcox Memorial Park Pond in Stanfordville, Dutchess County, a suspicious algae bloom was reported Aug. 4 by the state Department of Health. The bloom was small and localized. The park is monitoring the situation. Visitors can contact the park for the most up-to-date information on the bloom.

The DEC found harmful algae blooms in Washington Park Lake in Albany in mid-July. Signs were posted around the park warning of the blooms and photos to help parkgoers recognize algae blooms.

The DEC tracks harmful algae blooms across the state, also known as HABs, using a map on its website.

Individuals can report suspicions of blooms to the DEC. If you suspect that you have seen a HAB, use a form available on the DEC website. Email HABsInfo@dec.ny.gov if you are not able to complete the form.

“DEC has seen an increased number of HABs reported for water bodies across New York State, which may be partly due to an increased awareness of the public,” the DEC said Friday. “Cyanobacteria have been present in water bodies for thousands of years. Many scientists believe that climate change is a factor in the occurrence of HABs and the fact that reports of HABs are increasing worldwide supports that.”

A comparison of 2019 to previous years won’t be available until all data is reviewed and evaluated this winter.

Health symptoms should be reported to the state Health Department at harmfulalgae@health.ny.gov and your local health department.

“HABs may be present in all parts of a water body,” according to the DEC’s website. “Avoid recreational activity in discolored water, or water that has visible scums.”

Harmful algae blooms have appeared in more frequently in the south, and have shut down beaches. Three dogs in Lake Allatoona, North Carolina, died last week after swimming in a pond laced with blue-green algae.

“Following Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State announcement, state agencies allocated more than $82 million in competitive grants for projects to address nutrient pollution in water bodies that have been affected by HABs,” the DEC said Friday. “These funds are in addition to a multi-year HAB research, advanced monitoring, and pilot programs initiated in 2018 at a cost of approximately $10 million. These expenditures do not include funding allocated for day-to-day drinking water quality monitoring and response undertaken by water purveyors in response to a specific HAB event.”

If you or your pets come into contact with blooms, rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove algae.

“Stop using water and seek medical attention immediately if symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, skin, eye or throat irritation, allergic reactions or breathing difficulties occur after drinking or having contact with blooms or untreated surface water,” according to the DEC.

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