Harmful algal bloom on Owasco Lake prompts weekly sampling

After the first confirmed harmful algal bloom of the season was detected on Owasco Lake last week, the Cayuga County Health Department has started weekly testing to monitor drinking water.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) listed a harmful algal bloom (HAB) with confirmed toxins on the Owasco Lake tributary of Sucker Brook last Friday as part of its weekly HAB notification system.

According to the notification, the small localized bloom was detected on Aug. 6. A bloom is considered confirmed with high toxins when samples show a level of microcystin, the specific toxin produced by some of the varieties of cyanobacteria that form HABs, greater than 20 or 10 micrograms per liter for shoreline and open water samples, respectively.

In response, the county Health Department has started a planned process of weekly testing at both the City of Auburn and Town of Owasco water treatment plants. The first sample was taken Tuesday and the department is expecting results by Wednesday morning.

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