Swimmers, Pets Told to Avoid Algal Bloom on Skaneateles Lake; City Monitoring Water Quality

Aug 8, 2018

Algal blooms can take on a blue-green color. Not all are toxic, but officials say to stay away just to be safe.
Credit nysdec.ny.gov

Beaches in Skaneateles are still closed as experts continue to test the algal blooms for toxins.  As a precaution, Clift Park and Skaneateles Country Club have been off limits since Tuesday.  Onondaga County public health official Jeff Till hopes lab results will be ready for Wednesday but he says information should be available by this weekend at the latest.  

He is warning people to avoid the algae until further notice.

"Residents should stay away from any blooms that they suspect in the area.  Don't swim in it.  Don't fish in it.  Don't use it for drinking water.  If it is confirmed toxic, and humans or animals come in contact with it, it could certainly cause issues.  If you get it on your skin, it'll cause skin irritation.  If you or your pet ingested it, it could cause very serious health effects.”    

Till says its best to stay away from any green scum on the surface of water.  

"You should always avoid an algal bloom, whether or not its toxic, whether or not it's known to be toxic.  Even if it's not toxic, it could have cyanobacteria in it, which can also cause health problems."

He says that can include skin or eye irritation, diarrhea and/or vomiting.   At this time the County has no indication there should be any concern for the drinking water taken from the lake that serves most of Syracuse and some suburbs.  But if test results for toxins come back positive, City Water Commissioner Joe Awald says the City is prepared to handle it.

"We have a plan in place where we would then begin additional chlorine dosage at the intake and in our finish water supply well in the Skaneateles Gatehouse.  It's a similar procedure to what we did last year."

...which Awald says mitigated any increased levels of toxin.  The City’s Department of Water tests both where water tests two locations:  Where the water is drawn at 25 to 40 feet deep, and the water’s surface. Awald says the water is tested weekly throughout the year, but testing increases to daily when algae appears.  More information as well as the latest test results on the algal blooms in Skaneateles and other lakes can all be found here.