Major Steps Being Made To Reduce Harmful Algal Blooms In New York Lakes
Things are finally moving in the right direction towards improving the water quality in lakes across New York State.
NYS DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos and Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez are proud to announce the approval of the Owasco Lake Watershed Nine Element Plan for Phosphorus Reduction. The collaborative effort hopes to make an impact on not only Owasco Lake, but for every watershed in New York State.
The plan will locate phosphorus in the lake and determine what factors brought it there or caused it to grow. By reducing phosphorus, the amount of Harmful Algal Blooms will also be diminished in Owasco Lake.
What Are Harmful Algal Blooms?
Cyanobacteria, "toxic algae" or "blue-green algae", are microscopic organisms that live in water bodies. When they grow in a large in a concentrated area, they are called Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB).
These toxins are dangerous for humans, but even more so for dogs. When ingested or left on the skin, pets can become fatally sick very quickly. You're advised to avoid swimming in these areas and rinse off immediately if exposed.
Harmful Algal Blooms are a problem in lakes across New York State, but even more so in the Finger Lakes. In the past years, the DEC has reported HABs in all 11 Finger Lakes. In 2021, they were significantly bad on Cayuga and Seneca Lakes, especially after water levels rose above flood stages for 2-weeks.
They can be caused by a number of things. Many researchers believe run-off from agriculture fields, along with roadside ditches and septic systems are a major factor. When these mix with water, sunlight and warm temperatures, they make the perfect conditions for the toxins to grow.
Owasco Lake Watershed Nine Element Plan
The comprehensive and collaborative plan now establishes a clear blueprint to improve water quality surrounding Owasco Lake. The plan itself designates what actions should be taken as phosphorus levels increase and decrease on the lake. This includes practices like...
- Agriculture Management
- Sediment and Erosion Control
- Installation of Riparian Forested Buffers
- Septic System Improvements.
New actions under the plan will also work towards improving the watershed's ability to withstand and recover from extreme weather events.
Other Efforts Combatting HABs
Another group trying to preserve the lakes is the Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT). This non-profit will purchase land around and near the lakes, limiting the amount development in that area. By doing this, less run-off and phosphorus will enter the lake, limiting the potential increase of HABs in the water.
So far, FLLT has protected over 29,000 acres of lakeshore, rugged gorges, forests and farmland. They also own more than 35 nature preserves that are open to the public and monitor 146 conservation easements.
Find out how you can help protect New York water's from Harmful Algal Bloom's by visiting their website!