Concern grows over the potential for harmful algal blooms on Skaneateles Lake

Local News

The drinking water source for hundreds of thousands ...

(WSYR-TV) — Harmful algal blooms are widespread on Cayuga Lake and have been spotted on Oneida, Otisco, and Cazenovia Lakes. But the concern for them on Skaneateles Lake is even greater concern because 200,000 families get their drinking water from there.

There are no signs of harmful algal blooms right now, but according to Skaneateles Lake Association President Paul Torrisi, that doesn’t mean we’re in the clear. As the water gets warmer, it becomes a breeding ground for toxic algae.

A group of volunteers with the Skaneateles Lake Association and the DEC scan the water on a daily basis looking for any signs of harmful blooms, like what we saw last summer and in 2017.

“Certain toxins can be harmful to the liver and brain and that’s a concern,” said Torrisi. “Especially since this is the drinking water for hundreds of thousands of families.

“The city of Syracuse, when it draws water, does not have to go through the expense of filtering the water before it sanitizes the water,” said Torrisi.

But if we keep seeing harmful algal blooms year after year, Torrisi thinks that could change.

A small bloom might not impact drinking water, but the more we see, the more concerning water quality becomes.

“I think what really needs to be looked at carefully moving forward, is the potential impact from climate change, the water is getting warmer, the air is getting warmer, and also aquatic invasive species,” said Torrisi.

A nutrient management team is working to fight these blooms, but Torrisi calls it a group effort and encourages those along the shoreline to help out too.

“Watch what they do in terms of lawns and gardens, using fertilizer and pesticides, minimize or not use them at all,” he said.

Keep in mind, there’s no overnight fix.

“It took decades for this to occur, it’s going to take decades to resolve,” said Torrisi.

If you do come across that blue-green, scummy film, Torrisi says the best thing to do is not swim near it.

For more local news, follow Nicole Sommavilla on Twitter @NeSommavilla

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