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2017 HAB Program

2017 Results

In 2015, Owasco Lake Watershed Inspection and Protection Division, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), the Cayuga County Department of Health, and the Owasco Watershed Lake Association (OWLA) joined efforts to better monitor Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in Owasco Lake. 

We were able to expand the 2017 Program due to a generous funding increase from NYSDEC. We were allocated funds to allow for analysis of 36 HAB samples to help:

  1. the community better understand the occurrence of blooms on the lake and whether they contain high toxins, and

  2. formulate trends that may develop between bloom location, time of the year, water temperature, toxicity, and bloom density.

In order to improve our lake surveillance, 24 monitoring zones were created around Owasco Lake. OWLA volunteers surveyed and monitored the section of shoreline in their assigned zones every Monday from early July through early October. When blooms were observed, volunteers collected and provided them to the Inspection Program to be transported to laboratories for analysis.

In June 2017, NYSDEC HAB coordinators held two training sessions for volunteers. Training sessions provided program information including: how to recognize the visual cues of a bloom, the proper technique for sampling, and how to best document blooms they observe. Volunteer citizen scientists allow constant HAB surveillance the Inspection Program could not carry out alone.  Results for the 2016 HAB season can be found below.

It is impossible to predict a bloom, so watershed residents and visitors should be aware of how to recognize blooms. The New York State and Cayuga County Department of Health (DOH) have adopted the slogan of “Know It-Avoid It-Report It.”


  • Know It: Harmful Algal Blooms come in many forms and look very different; the common cues are spilled paint, streaks on the water surface, pea soup color, or small green dots suspended in the water column.

  • Avoid It: HABs may contain toxins that can cause skin irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and many other illnesses. Never drink water that may have been drawn from an area that is experiencing a bloom and avoid all recreational activities near a bloom.

  • Report It: Blooms can be reported to the Owasco Lake Watershed Inspection and Protection Division at  (315) 427-5188, or to the NYSDOH at If you or your pets experience any symptoms that may be related to a HAB, please contact your family doctor and/or report the illness to the Cayuga County DOH.

Note: This is a map of surveillance zones, not locations of current blooms. 

2017 Results

Date            Zone #            BG Chl a (ug/L)           Microcystin (ug/L)                        Anatoxin (ug/L)

July 27         Zone 24           8128 ug/L*                   Below Detectable Limits              Not Detectable

July 28         Zone 5             7556 ug/L*                   Below Detectable Limits              Not Detectable

July 30         Zone 14           1677 ug/L*                   Below Detectable Limits              Not Detectable

July 31         Zone 10           1926 ug/L*                   Below Detectable Limits              Not Detectable

July 31         Zone 12           680 ug/L*                     Below Detectable Limits              Not Detectable

July 31         Zone 24           3292 ug/L*                   Below Detectable Limits              Not Detectable

Sept. 11      Zone 1             716 ug/L*                      236.2 ug/L**                                 Not Detectable

Sept. 11      Zone 8             511 ug/L*                      55 ug/L **                                      Not Detectable

Sept. 11      Zone 24           556 ug/L*                      118.23 ug/L**                               0.13 ug/L

Sept. 11      Yacht Club       638 ug/L*                     189 ug/L **                                    0.81 ug/L

Sept. 12       Zone 12          2206 ug/L*                   591.25 ug/L**                                18.55 ug/L

Sept. 12      Zone 23           297 ug/L*                     118.23 ug/L**                                0.32 ug/L

Sept. 12      SE Owasco      988 ug/L*                     81.66 ug/L**                                  Not Detectable

Sept. 17      Zone 22           45463 ug/L*                 1122.81 ug/L**                             Not Detectable

Sept. 18      Zone 3             1258 ug/L*                    318.7 ug/L**                                 Not Detectable

Sept. 18      Zone 4             4578 ug/L*                   331.54 ug/L**                                Not Detectable

Sept. 18      Zone 10           2081 ug/L*                   297.16 ug/L**                               0.11 ug/L

Sept. 18      Zone 24           20813 ug/L *                1704.8 ug/L**                               0.55 ug/L

Sept. 25      Zone 1             4381 ug/L*                   618.3 ug/L**                                 8.92 ug/L

Sept. 25      Zone 4             1301 ug/L*                   316.76 ug/L**                               0.47 ug/L

Sept. 29     Zone 6              1192 ug/L*                   259 ug/L**                                    0.11 ug/L

Sept. 29     Zone 12            1106 ug/L*                   112 ug/L**                                    1.83 ug/L

Sept. 29     Yacht Club        1596 ug/L*                   361.8 ug/L**                                 0.15 ug/L

*The bloom status is compared to the DEC Confirmed Bloom threshold of 25 µg/L

**Confirmed with High Toxin Bloom threshold of 20 µg/L microcystin

Note: HAB season is completed for the year. Sampling will resume next year in July. Thank you to all that who participated in this effort!

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