Unlike normal algae in freshwater lakes, harmful algal blooms (HABs) can be toxic for people, pets, and wildlife. HABs are known episodically to appear in area lakes, and have even occurred in Yankee Lake. Indeed, HABs are becoming more common world-wide. Learn the signs of an HAB. If you think an HAB is present, contact the YLPA immediately, and stay out of the water until you get the all clear.
Most algae are harmless and a normal part of freshwater lake biomes. However, some types of algae can grow quickly, form “blooms,” and can generate “toxins.” These are called Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). HABs are increasing locally, across New York State, around the nation, and world-wide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has tagged HABs as an “Emerging Public Health Issue.” HABs can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; skin, eye, or throat irritation; allergic reactions, or breathing difficulties from either contact or drinking contaminated water. Symptoms can be even more pronounced for pets.
HABs have a very distinctive appearance. Rather than globs of growth floating beneath the surface, HABs are a streaky, soupy layer floating on top of the water. It is often described as looking like spilled paint. An HAB is usually bright pea green and may have bright blue streaks in it. If you see a bloom in process, do not get in the water, touch the water, or ingest the water. This goes for people and pets! If you have been in water that you think had an HAB, get out of the water, wash off in fresh, clean well water, and contact the YLPA immediately, either by phone (845-888-0474) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
It is important that each YLPA member be aware of HABs, understand why they happen, understand the risks, and help us do everything possible to prevent them.
Algae require two things to survive.
Poorly maintained septic systems leach into the ground and effluents are carried into the lake. Our pets (and wild animals) leave excrement in our yards or in the nearby woods. When it rains, chemical components of their waste are carried by rainwater into the lake. Additionally, you need to understand that, if you fertilize your yard and ornamental plants, then you are fertilizing the weeds and algae in the lake. The fertilizer that is not immediately absorbed by the plants in your yard is washed by the rainwater into the lake. It makes no difference if the fertilizer is solid, liquid, organic or synthetic chemicals. All of these are nutrients that feed not only harmful algal blooms, but they also radically increase the growth rates of aquatic weeds and non-HAB algae.