Cayuga County Health Department: Knowing and Reporting Harmful Algal Blooms | Lifestyles

Deanna Ryan special for the citizen

Since June 21, it’s officially summer!

The Cayuga County Health Department would like to remind the public that we can all take steps to prepare for the presence of harmful algal blooms in local water bodies and the potential health effects to humans and domestic animals in the event of exposure. Skaneateles, Owasco and Cayuga lakes all experienced HABs this past summer.

There are a few things you can do before and while you recreate on local lakes. Weather conditions influence where harmful algal blooms will occur. During extended periods of calm, sunny days, flowers can accumulate on the surface at any location. Wind and waves can cause them to form along shorelines or in protected areas. Changes in wind direction can move a flower from one place to another. Periods of cool, rainy weather can often cause a flower to fade.

Know it

Water bodies that are discolored with a paint or filmy appearance, or floating scum, should always be avoided as they are potentially harmful. Images of these types of flowers as well as non-pest flowers can be viewed at

People also read…

avoid it

Always stay away from flowers in lakes or streams. Never swim, fish, boat, wade or eat fish caught in flowery areas. Flowering or not, never drink, prepare food, cook, or make ice with a private water source drawn directly from an untreated or improperly treated lake. During a bloom, private water supplies drawn directly from the lake should not be used for showering, bathing or washing up even if treatment is provided. Public water supplies that draw water from surface waters are treated, disinfected and monitored regularly. The public would be notified by the Cayuga County Health Department if the public water supply was affected by the HABs.

report it

If you think a bloom may be harmful, report it to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website at by clicking on “Report HABs”.

If you feel that you or your pets are showing symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or irritation to the skin, eyes, or respiratory system due to exposure to harmful algae blooms, please contact your supplier. health care provider or your veterinarian.

For more information on harmful algal blooms, go to If you have any questions or to report any symptoms you think may be related to exposure to harmful algal blooms, contact the Cayuga County Health Department at (315) 253-1560.

Deanna Ryan, MS, is a senior public health educator with the Cayuga County Health Department. For more information, contact the department at (315) 253-1560, visit or like and follow the department on Facebook and Instagram at @CayugaCountyHealthDept.

Comments are closed.