Harmful Algal Blooms

The Issue
Cyanobacteria (blue green algae) are natually occuring in freshwater lakes, ponds, and surface waters.  A combination of factors allow the algae to grow into blooms that can harmful to human and animal health and degrade our water quality:

  • Phosphorus and nitrogen inputs (nutrients) from the surrounding watershed fuel algal growth.
  • Hot, sunny, and calm weather creates ideal cyanobacteria growing conditions.
  • Dreissenid mussels (Zebra and quagga mussels) don’t filter cyanobacteria out of the water and can alter our lake ecosystems.
  • Nutrients originate in the watershed and have many sources. Reducing nutrients from the watershed is the only strategy we have to help limit our impact.

What to look for:
BGA_9_18_Greg Talomie
Use visual cues to identify harmful algae blooms. They can appear like pea soup, spilled paint, globs, and parallel surface streaks. The color is typically blue-green to green to yellow, but can also be brown, red or purple. Visit the DEC photo gallery to learn more about identifying blooms.

The Risk:
Some HABs are capable of producing toxins, called cyanotoxins, which can pose health risks to humans and animals through drinking water and recreational water exposure. Its important to remember: If you see bloom conditions, avoid it! Blooms can appear quickly in the lake when the conditions are just right. Cyanobacteria can move up and down the water column, and can be pushed by wave and wind action. Please use your visual indicators before recreating in the water – stay safe and avoid it. Be especially careful to  scan the waterfront before pets and children enter the water!

Shoreline Monitoring Program

To help us increase our understanding of the cyanobacteria dynamics in Canandaigua Lake, in 2018 CLWA launched a Volunteer Shoreline HABs Monitoring Program. Volunteers work closely with watershed staff to help monitor the lake’s condition and provide more “eyes on the lake”.  For our 2019 program, Twenty nine CLWA volunteers have been trained to perform weekly surveillance to look for and sample harmful algal blooms. The 2019 program begins August 3rd and will run for 10 weeks until October 12th.  Findings will be reported to the public on our website, facebook page and in our email blasts.

Water Quality Updates:

August 21 2019 Water Quality Update
August 20 2019 Water Quality Update
August 19 2019 Water Quality Update
August 16 2019 Water Quality Update
August 14 2019 Water Quality Update 

2019 Shoreline Monitoring Program Interactive Map

The below map serves as a record of the reports submitted by trained shoreline monitors on Canandaigua Lake, Seneca Lake and Keuka Lake.  To view DEC’s the Statewide NYHABS map, click here.

Click on the icons for further details on each HAB report, including photos. PLEASE NOTE: Water quality conditions can change daily, if not hourly. This map serves as a record of the samples collected this sampling week and may not indicate current lake conditions. Please continue to use your visual indicators and look for suspicious algal activity before recreating in the lake. If no blooms are observed during the sampling week, then no markers will appear.

Yellow markersSuspicious Bloom
Gray Markers – Suspicious / Confirmed Blooms more than one week old

This interactive map and volunteer program reporting is thanks to a partnership with Seneca Lake Pure Waters.

How you can report suspicious blooms
Help by collecting information on blooms:

  • Location (GPS coordinates, address, or geographic description of the area )
  • Photos
  • Description – Was it streaky, globby, thread-like, like spilled paint, like pea soup, scummy, silky, or have small leaves? What color was it?
  • How large of an area did it cover?
  • How long was it there?

Report Suspected Blooms to HABs@canandaigualakeassoc.org.  

Additional Resources:

hab brochure pic

HAB Brochure Canandaigua Lake

dogs and habs pic

 Dogs and HABs Fact Sheet

On October 20, 2015, the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association and the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Council co-hosted a community discussion on the September blue green algae event.  A panel of experts each presented a powerpoint, followed by a question and answer session. The experts discussed the science behind blue green algae and the sequence of events on Canandaigua Lake. Video and presentations are below.

Kevin Olvany – Blue Green Algae presentation

Scott Kishbaugh – Canandaigua Presentation

Dr. Greg Boyer – Introduction to HABs

October 20, 2015 Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association – Blue Green Algae Presentation [HD] from Finger Lakes TV on Vimeo.