Cornell researcher points to myriad causes of harmful algal blooms

Cornell University ecosystem scientist Dr. Robert Howarth thinks he may have an answer for why harmful algal blooms on the region's lakes last year were so bad, according to a presentation he gave to the Cayuga County Water Quality Management Agency Thursday.

For background, Howarth explained that, until the past decade or so, the academic consensus around harmful algal blooms was that the cyanobacteria they're comprised of formed in lakes with particularly high levels of phosphorous.

However, Howarth said, that wouldn't make sense for Skaneateles, Owasco and Cayuga lakes in 2017. Skaneateles, in particular, has had a phosphorous management program for 32 years, while the other lakes, though higher, were still well below levels presumed to produce harmful blooms.

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