GENEVA — The Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association has issued the first of its weekly algae bloom reports of the 2019 summer season, even though shoreline monitoring by volunteers won’t begin until Aug. 5.
SLPWA Harmful Algal Blooms — or HABs — director Frank DiOrio said that more than 125 volunteers signed up to monitor some 56 miles of Seneca Lake shoreline this year. Training of the first group of volunteers ended June 17 and the remainder of the volunteers were trained July 8.
“We will be even bigger and stronger than previous years,” DiOrio said.
Eighty-four volunteers from 2018 are returning, joined by 41 first-time volunteers. DiOrio said the shoreline monitoring program began in 2014 with a telephone number for people to report blooms. The program as evolved into a collaboration with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
SLPWA has four regional coordinators for the HABs monitoring program. All four are returning this year. They are Bill Roege for the northeast quadrant, Peter Muller for the southwest quadrant, Maura Toole for the southeast quadrant and Rich Adams for the northwest quadrant.
“This year, we have decided to move to seven-day monitoring. We are starting and ending our shoreline survey period a week later than before and the official monitoring period is August 5 to October 6,” DiOrio said.
Volunteers have been trained to contact their regional coordinators if they see a suspicious bloom before Aug. 5. DiOrio said a new software platform for recording findings is in place.
DiOrio said that an analysis of sampling from 2014 to 2018 causes him to state that “it appears the percentage of blooms that are highly toxic may be increasing.”
The Tripp Foundation also has awarded SLPWA a $15,000 grant to place dock monitoring stations at eight different monitoring locations around the lake. The devices, which include cameras, will sample water quality at four of the locations.
Kevin Olvany, watershed manager for Canandaigua Lake, said that the lake is so far clear of algal blooms or HABs. He said the lake has never had blue-green algal blooms in July. Last year, the first blooms were noticed Aug. 24 and lasted eight weeks.
Cayuga Lake, bordered by Seneca and Cayuga counties, was found to have HABs on the east shore in Cayuga County on July 9. Those HABs are anticipated to continue with the warmer weather. Cayuga Lake is the source of drinking water for the water treatment plant of the village of Aurora. That system also serves the village and Wells College in Aurora.
Cayuga County Health Department officials said the operator at the water plant has been routinely monitoring for the presence of algae in water entering the plant and will continue to do so.
The drinking water is being sampled and the results will be posted on the Cayuga County Health Department website at www.cayugacounty.us/health and click on the HABs button. People can also call (315) 253-1560 for updates about HABs and algae blooms.
Cayuga Lake also is the water source for Seneca Falls on the west side of the lake.
“We check the lake water near our intake almost daily. So far, the water is clear. No blue-green algae yet. The Department of Health asks us to check and we’ll use the Police Department boat to check. If we get any, our plant can remove it,” said Joe Tullo, water treatment plant operator.
On Keuka Lake, the state Health Department closed Red Jacket Park swimming beach in Penn Yan from July 3-10 due to a suspected algae bloom in the water off the swimming area.
It was reopened Wednesday. Indian Pines Park swimming beach in Penn Yan has remained open for swimming.