blue-green algae

Nancy Mueller / NYS Federation of Lake Associations, Inc.

Updated at 8:00 p.m. Thursday

Onondaga County health officials continue to say that the city of Syracuse's drinking water, along with the drinking water of other municipalities that draw water from Skaneateles Lake, is safe to drink. 

Samples tested Thursday at the state’s Wadsworth Lab in Albany found 0.25 parts per billion inside the City of Syracuse Gatehouse located in the Village of Skaneateles, but prior to the completion of the chlorination.

This level is consistent with prior reported sampling at the Gatehouse and below the health advisory levels for both adults and sensitive populations. All other locations in the water system – including the City of Syracuse, the Town of DeWitt, the Town of Skaneateles, the Village of Elbridge, and the Village of Jordan – showed non-detectable levels of algal toxins in finished water. These levels remain below the EPA’s 10-day health advisory level of 0.3 parts per billion for sensitive populations and well below the EPA advisory level for adults of 1.6 parts per billion.

Residents in the Village of Skaneateles and the other municipalities which use this drinking water source can continue to drink the water.

Original Post

Elevated levels of toxic blue-green algae have been discovered in the water of Skaneateles Lake. The lake is the primary water supply of the city of Syracuse’s water system. While tests show the public water is still safe to drink, residents who live along the lake’s shoreline and drink water directly from the lake could be at risk.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

A project that could reduce the amount of toxins in Oswasco Lake, a primary source of drinking water for about a dozen communities in Cayuga County, is stalled.

The goal of the Owasco Flats Wetland Restoration Project is to build the floodplain around Oswasco Lake with plants and basins that can naturally filter out the toxins in the water from the surrounding tributaries. Phase one of the project was approved for $700,000 in state funding back in 2011. Its designer Bruce Natale says they've been securing permits and contractors ever since.

Oswego County Health Department / File Photo

This spring's wet weather could make the blue-green algae problem worse later this summer.

It’s no secret that this has been a tremendously rainy spring, according to SUNY ESF biochemistry professor Greg Boyer. And that could set the stage for big algae blooms later this summer. Blooms rely on nitrogen and phosphorus that run into the lake, combined with hot and calm sunny days.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

To the unknowing observer, charcoal may seem like an unlikely solution to toxic algae blooms in Owasco Lake. But that’s what Auburn city officials are hoping to use to prevent those toxins from getting into the city’s drinking water, which is sourced from the lake.

Toxins from algae are known to make humans and animals sick, and there are possible long-term health implications.

Auburn Mayor Michael Quill says active charcoal, as it’s called, is well-suited to blocking those toxins.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The two candidates running in the 24th Congressional District converged in Auburn Wednesday to separately address the issue of toxins in Owasco Lake in Cayuga County, each trying to position themselves as better equipped to handle the problem that's affecting drinking water for voters in the region.

Oswego County Health Department / File Photo

The David C. Webb Memorial Park Beach on Oneida Lake in Constantia is closed until further notice because of a blue-green algae bloom. According to the Oswego County Health Department, the beach will stay closed until the blooms have cleared and they say it's safe to reopen.

The Constantia Children's Summer Recreation Program will also suspend all swimming activities at the park.