LOOK OUT FOR BLOOMS — A sign posted at Turtle Pond at Delta Lake State Park urges caution in conjunction with a report of likely harmful algae (or algal) blooms on the pond. (Sentinel photo by John Clifford)

County warns toxic algae blooms likely at Delta Lake

Published Sep 11, 2018 at 4:02pm

The Oneida County Health Department is encouraging the public to use caution regarding Harmful Algae Blooms (HAB) that have been confirmed in Otter Lake and are likely at Delta Lake State Park.

The report of a likely cyanobacteria HAB was on Delta Lake and Turtle Pond within Delta Lake State Park but currently outside of the public beach area, according to the announcement.

Signs have been posted by the pond informing people that there are algae blooms in the area and to avoid contact with them, including with pets, Delta park Manager Joe Morisette said this morning. Turtle Pond is “well away from the beach,” he said, adding that it is sometimes used for fishing but not for boating or swimming.

The situation has little if any impact on park operations, said Morisette. The beach area will be open this weekend, and may be open on some weekends after that depending on weather forecasts, he noted.

Exposure to the HABs and toxins can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, plus skin, eye or throat irritation and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties, according to the Health Department announcement. People and pets should avoid contact with blooms, and should rinse off with clean water if contact occurs. People can come into contact with harmful toxins through recreational water activities, drinking untreated surface water, and consuming contaminated freshwater fish or shellfish. The county Health Department recommends contacting your health care provider if symptoms occur following exposure to blue-green algae. The department also is discouraging people from drawing water from the lake for domestic use at this time. 

Blue-green algae, technically known as cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams. They usually are present in low numbers. Blue-green algae can become very abundant in warm, shallow, undisturbed surface water that receives a lot of sunlight. When this occurs, they can form blooms that discolor the water or produce floating rafts or scums on the water.

Bathing beaches regulated by local health departments are periodically closed due to the occurrence of blue-green algae blooms. In addition to the possible presence of harmful toxins, reduced visibility in the water caused by algae blooms could create a drowning hazard.

More information is at www.health.ny.gov/harmfulalgae online.

Questions or comments may be sent to HABsInfo@dec.ny.gov.