Toxins found in Honeoye Lake algae

Posted at: 07/30/2013 12:33 PM
By: Messenger Post Newspaper

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has found a high level of toxins in the blue-green algae in Honeoye Lake. Tests run on lab samples July 22 confirmed large, localized areas of high toxins on the lake.

Sandy Bottom Beach is closed. People and pets are advised to stay out of the lake.

The beach was also closed for several days in early July due to an apparent blue-green algae bloom though it wasn't until the more recent testing that the bloom was confirmed and the toxins found.

The DEC this year ramped up monitoring and testing of lakes with blue-green algae blooms becoming more common. Experts say hot temperatures, heavy rains, and the buildup of phosphorus nutrients contributes to frequency and severity of blue-green algae blooms.

Honeoye Lake is among five lakes statewide the DEC has confirmed have blue-green algae blooms containing high toxins. The others are Chautauqua Lake, in Chautauqua County; Black Lake in St. Lawrence County; Crane Lakes in Madison County; and Putnam Lake in Putnam County. In all, 29 lakes currently have either confirmed or suspected blue-green algae blooms.

This is the first year blue-green algae samples from Honeoye Lake are being tested for toxins, said Bruce Gilman, professor of environmental conservation and horticulture at Finger Lakes Community College. It is likely the toxins have been present in previous algae blooms on lake, added Gilman, director of Muller Field Station on Honeoye Lake. "The conditions have been forming for decades with longer growing seasons and warmer water temperatures," he said. Though efforts continue to try to control blue-green algae, he said, it is not enough to combat conditions caused by Mother Nature.