Lower Fish Creek Pond experienced an Algal Bloom that limited water use over the holiday weekend. Initially reported on June 26, the bloom lasted through the July 4th weekend and traces of it are still present. While the bloom was widespread throughout the pond it was most prominent along the eastern shore. Residents of Fish Creek Park Association were notified to take precaution and not to use the water for any purposes.
The bloom was reported to the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). According to the DEC, while there were cyanobacteria present, its density has not met their criteria to be designated as a confirmed Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB).
While not all algae are toxic, algae can contain toxic cyanobacteria, meaning this is not just a nuisance discoloration of the water. Toxic blooms, also known as HABs, are capable of producing contaminants that can cause health effects in people and animals. These water bodies should not be used as a water source for drinking or cooking, recreating, or having pets around.
The Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) identified the Fish Creek Pond algae as Planktothrix isothrix. This is the same genera of cyanobacteria found in the lake-wide bloom that occurred in Upper Saranac Lake (USL) in 1990. This species is present in many lakes and most of the time is not producing toxins but there is concern when a bloom is formed.
While the exact causes of HABs vary, they tend to occur in waters that are high in nitrogen and/or phosphorus. This bloom was likely triggered by heavy rains introducing nutrients into the water followed by a hot calm period as was seen the week prior to June 26.
Major and persistent blooms are frightening for water-dependent tourism areas such as the USL region. Algae growth severely hampers drinking water, recreation, and tourism. USF focuses on various educational and outreach initiatives to prevent algae blooms from becoming a consistent problem.
What can you do?
Know it. HABs vary in appearance from scattered green dots in the water to long linear green streaks, pea soup, or spilled green paint, to blue-green or white coloration.
Avoid it. Take the following steps to limit your exposure:
- Don’t swim, fish, boat, or wade in areas with blooms.
- Don’t eat fish caught from areas with algae blooms.
- Don’t drink, bathe, wash dishes, or prepare food with water containing blue-green algae.
Report it. Report suspected blooms to the DEC:
Consider visiting a healthcare provider if you, your family, or your animals are experiencing symptoms related to HABs. Symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting; skin, eye, or throat irritation; and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties.
Prevent it. You can do your part to lessen the chances of a bloom:
- Maintain your septic system to prevent wastewater from seeping into surface water.
- Maintain a native vegetative buffer along the lakefront and tributaries to prevent stormwater runoff from directly entering the lake.
- Avoid the use of fertilizers.
- Replace expanses of lawn with landscape patches of trees, shrubs, and mulch to capture and hold rainwater and divert on-site runoff and rain gutters to gardens or small depressions where water has time to infiltrate the soil.
- Reduce the total amount of impermeable surfaces by replacing them with natural walkways, gravel, or permeable pavements. Avoid the use of asphalt near the lake.
Photos from Lower Fish Creek Pond: