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SLPWA ramping up Harmful Algae Bloom monitoring program on Seneca Lake

The arrival of spring means the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association is expanding its Seneca Lake shoreline monitoring for harmful algal blooms.

Pure Waters has been conducting a HAB identification and notification process since 2014. It began with a hotline and has evolved into a collaboration with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

A summary of the findings:

• In 2014, nine samples were analyzed. None were identified HABs.
• In 2015, nine more samples were analyzed. Five were confirmed to be HABs, one with high toxins.
• In 2016, 12 samples were analyzed. Five were confirmed HABs, including two were with high toxins.
• Last year, 60 samples were analyzed and 50 were confirmed HABs, with 22 containing high toxins.
This year, Pure Waters plans to expand its monitoring program by recruiting additional survey volunteers; adding more monitoring zones on the shoreline; establishing HAB regional coordinators to assist survey volunteers; and raising awareness about HABs by incorporating education about them into publications and forums.

Last year, more than 80 shoreline volunteers submitted weekly reports of their observations to DEC in August and September. August testing found the samples to be HAB-free, but September was much different, with more than 80 percent of the samples testing positive for HABs.

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