Your Stories: Neighbors along Oneida River concerned about green algae

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CLAY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — With temperatures hitting the 90’s, being out on the water is something Scott Patula and his family enjoy. “I’d be out on a jet ski right now or on the pontoon boat right now, going some place, enjoying it,” Patula said.

It’s becoming harder to get on the water on the Oneida River because of what’s in it.

“In the last 22 years, this is the worst – this algae that we’ve had on the surface and the weeds coming up underneath. It’s just getting worse and worse and worse, to the point where we can’t get through here with boats anymore without having to clean the motors off and overheating the motors.”

Scott Patula

Patula said in the past neighbors have tried to rake it out, but it hasn’t helped. While he’s not sure if it is harmful, he is concerned.

“My dog has drank some of the water and she has been sick for the last couple of days, but I don’t know if it’s from this or from something else,” Patula explained.

We did forward a picture a neighbor took to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). They couldn’t determine from the photo whether or not it was harmful algal blooms. The state DEC encourages the public to “know it, avoid it, report it”.

THE NYSDEC breaks it down:
KNOW IT – naturally occurring harmful algal blooms, ‘HABs,’ vary in appearance from scattered green dots in the water, to long, linear green streaks, pea soup or spilled green paint, to blue-green or white coloration.

AVOID IT – People, pets and livestock should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has algal scums on the surface.

REPORT IT – If members of the public suspect a HAB, report it through the NYHABs online reporting form available on DEC’s website.

Patula hopes by bringing attention to this, they can get some answers or remedy because it’s an inconvenience. “It can be a pain,” Patula said, “It makes the decision whether you’re going out some days.”

If you suspect a potential HAB are encouraged to report sightings and submit photos to NYHABs: https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/83310.html

Also from the DEC:

  • HABs can cause health effects in people and animals when water with blooms is touched, swallowed, or when airborne droplets are inhaled. For more information please visit NYS Department of Health’s HAB page. Symptoms or health concerns related to HABs should be reported to DOH at harmfulalgae@health.ny.gov. The public is encouraged to contact the local health department with any reports of health effects (human or animal). They recommend contacting county health departments.
  • HABs are likely triggered by a combination of water and environmental conditions that may include: excess nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), lots of sunlight, low-water or low-flow conditions, calm water, and warm temperatures. Depending on the weather and the characteristics of the lake, HABs may be short-lived (appearing and disappearing in hours) or long-lived (persisting for several weeks or more). While the exact cause of HABs is not fully understood, HABs usually occur in waters high in phosphorus and/or nitrogen. New York State has many programs and activities to reduce phosphorus and nitrogen from entering the water from surrounding lands, including stormwater permitting programs, funding for water quality improvement projects, and a nutrient law that restricts the use of phosphorus lawn fertilizer. Please find additional info on HABs from DEC’s website:

Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/77118.html

DEC HABs Brochure:

http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/water_pdf/habsbrochure.pdf

HABs FAQs:

http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/91570.html

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