SENECA PURE WATERS HAB’s Program
For many years, Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, the Finger Lakes Institute (FLI) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) have been working together to raise awareness, monitor the lake, and notify the public of harmful cyanobacteria bloom locations on Seneca Lake.
Cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae or harmful algal blooms (HABs), are found worldwide, especially in calm, nutrient-rich waters. Unfortunately, some species of cyanobacteria produce toxins that may negatively affect the health of animals and humans thus requiring a public notification or alert system.
From August to October, volunteers monitor 60 miles of Seneca Lake's shoreline and submit reports via a simple phone app when a bloom is detected. Typically blooms occur on calm days, but specific reasons why a bloom occurs one day and not another day are still a mystery.
SLPWA is always looking for new volunteers to monitor the lake and coordinate our large volunteer network. We especially need volunteers in the southwest and southeast areas of the lake. Our organization has one person who oversees the entire program. That person works with regional coordinators (the lake is divided into four regions) who in turn communicate and assists the volunteers in each of the four regions. SLPWA provides training that teaches how to identify and report a bloom. Training only takes an hour or two of your time and is done remotely and/or in person. Reporting is quite simple, take a picture of the bloom and report it via an app on your phone.
We have developed a highly automated system that receives reports of blooms, recorders all the pertinent data and automatically populates a map with the location of the bloom and photos. People may sign up to receive email and/or text message notifications when blooms occur. The map with all the bloom information can be viewed online. We also distribute the bloom information to the DEC and provide a weekly bloom watch newsletter to our members throughout the HAB’s season.
More detailed information on the program can be found on our website at https://senecalake.org/Blooms