RED HOUSE, N.Y. (WIVB) - Perhaps you've noticed it. It looks like spilled green paint in the water.
The scum is called a blue-green algae bloom, which has been confirmed on many of the states inland lakes this summer. It not only looks unattractive, but it emits a rather unpleasant odor.
Oddly enough these blooms are not even an algae - it is a bacteria that can potentially result in a much bigger problem. It produces harmful toxins, resulting in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, even breathing difficulties. This past week, a dog died after swimming in a lake at Allegany State Park.
According to Brad Whitcomb, Regional Director of Allegany State Park, "They had their dog swimming in Red House Lake prior to their departure. About a week later, we received a report from the family and Department of Health that the dog had died."
Whether algae bloom played a role in the dogs death will never be determined as it was cremated. But this event does raise a red flag. And the weather can play a big role. Hot, calm conditions cause the bloom to form rapidly.
"They can appear and disappear within a day or two, I'm told," Whitcomb added.
Should you come in contact with potentially contaminated water, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recommends washing with soap and then rinsing with clear water. Never drink surface water whether there are visible signs of algae. If camping out, avoid washing cookware and never eat fish from potentially contaminated waterways.
Whitcomb recommends, "If you see these green areas that looks like green paint has been dumped, stay away from the large vegetative matting, floating mats. That way, exposure is minimal."
In our area, testing has confirmed the presence of the algae on Findley Lake, Chautauqua Lake at North Harmony and Java Lake at one point during the summer. And visible inspection has led to the Allegheny Reservoir, Red House Lake (which is presently being tested), Lime Lake, Beaver Lake and Alma Lake being classified as "suspicious."
The death of two dogs in Indiana has been tied to the algae during July. If there is any possibility of algae bloom, there is no question, that it should be avoided.
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