Several lakes statewide — including Canandaigua, Seneca and Honeoye — were plagued by toxic algae blooms this year
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state must do more to fight the growing problem of algae blooms in upstate lakes, including various of the Finger Lakes such as Honeoye, Canandaigua and Seneca lakes.
The Democratic governor on Thursday proposed a $65 million plan to study, treat and prevent the blooms, which can contaminate local drinking water supplies, sicken people and animals in the water and interfere with recreation.
Twelve water bodies including Chautauqua Lake, Cayuga Lake, Lake Champlain, and Lake George would be deemed high priorities because of their vulnerability to algae or because they are key sources of drinking water or important recreation areas. The state funding, which will require legislative approval, would go to lake-specific plans to combat the problem.
The proposal is one of several initiatives announced this week ahead of Cuomo's state of the state address next month.
Harmful blue-green algae once again this year plagued an alarming number of lakes statewide, including water bodies throughout the Finger Lakes region.
In September, lab samples confirmed high toxins from blue-green algae in Canandaigua and Keuka lakes, the second season in recorded history for Canandaigua Lake to suffer a toxic algae bloom. (The first was in 2015). Seneca Lake had blooms in 2015 and 2017, as well. Honeoye Lake, due to its small size and warm waters which provide a hospitable breeding ground for algae — typically sees booms, but blooms are appearing on the larger lakes as well: Skaneateles Lake, for example, had its first recorded blue-green algae bloom this autumn, with certain areas of the lake showing high levels of toxins and some algae making it into the city of Syracuse’s intake pipes, leading the city to add extra chlorine to the drinking water.
Harmful algae blooms look like pea soup; blue, green, or white spilled paint; green dots in the water, or green globs on the water surface with parallel streaks that are usually green. Blooms produce toxins that can harm people and animals. Exposure can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, allergic reactions or difficulty breathing, as well as lung, liver and nervous system problems depending on exposure. Toxins can be fatal in animals, since they often groom by licking their skin or fur.
Messenger Post Media contributed to this article.