Harmful Algal Blooms

Multiple suspicious blue-green algae blooms, also known as HABs (Harmful Algal Blooms), have been reported in the Tompkins County portion of Cayuga Lake during the past two weeks and monitoring is continuing. These blooms may be small in size and confined to specific areas of the shoreline and bays. Areas where blooms are not observed can continue to be used for recreational use.

The Tompkins County Health Department urges residents and visitors to beware of blue-green algae. These blooms can occur in any calm body of water and may produce toxins that are harmful to people and animals. Do not drink the water and avoid contact with the water if it appears discolored or has an unpleasant odor. Intense rain and runoff events can lead to an increase in the presence of HABs.

Identifying HABs:

If contact occurs with suspicious blue-green algae,

  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove algae. Rinse dogs that may have gone in the water so they do not lick their coats.
  • 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.

The Cayuga Lake Watershed Network, Discover Cayuga Lake, and the Community Science Institute (CSI) have a volunteer program to conduct HAB monitoring of Cayuga Lake. The information is updated weekly and results are available on the CSI website: http://www.communityscience.org/volunteer/harmful-algal-bloom-monitoring/cayuga-lake-habs-reporting-page/

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation has a map of reported HABs across the State here: https://nysdec.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=ae91142c812a4ab997ba739ed9723e6e

Report any HAB-related health symptoms to the NYS Health Department at harmfulalgae@health.ny.gov and call your healthcare provider.

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