What are Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB)?
Algae are important to the lake ecosystem, and most species of algae are not harmful. Algal blooms occur when certain types of algae grow quickly in water, often in response to increases in nutrients and hot, dry, still weather conditions. Some species of algae (blue-green algae, also called cyanobacteria) intermittently release toxins, harmful to the health of the environment, plants, animals, and people.
How do the toxins in HAB cause illness?
Rarely, there may be skin rashes or itching. Mostly, however, the toxins must be ingested to be a problem. Therefore, for the most part, it is safe to swim in areas of the lake that are clear. But, be reasonable; do not swim through algal bloom. Do not allow small children to play in shallow water that is not clear. Keep pets out of these areas. Do not drink lake water. When in Doubt, Stay Out.
What can I do to decrease or prevent algal blooms?
Don’t add nutrients to the lake:
- Use only phosphorus free fertilizers (middle number is zero) and use them sparingly
- Plant a buffer zone of deep rooted grasses, shrubs, or natural vegetation at the shoreline.
- Have your septic system inspected and pumped at least every 3 years. Make repairs promptly and, if necessary, replace outdated or ineffective systems
- Use phosphate-free laundry and dishwashing soap
- Compost or properly dispose of leaves, lawn clippings, garden waste, goose poop, etc. Not in the lake, please!
CSLAP monitoring, Roaring Brook Lake, and HAB documentation
For eight years, Roaring Brook Lake has participated in CSLAP, an intensive NY state lake monitoring program. One benefit of our participation in the program is our lake’s access to expertise and testing when a problem is suspected. At different times in past summers, residents have identified areas suspicious for HAB which have been sampled.
Photo Gallery: http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/81962.html
Map of confirmed sites in NY state: http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/83310.html