For the first time in the history of monitoring of lakes and pond across Suffolk County, 10 separate water bodies with blue-green algae blooms have been officially listed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation as of Aug. 31.
According to the Long Island Coastal Conservation Research Alliance, prior to this week no more than seven sites had been listed.
Currently, Sagaponack Pond in Southampton, Little Fresh Pond in Southampton, Georgica Pond in East Hampton, Roth Pond at Stony Brook University, McKay Lake in Calverton, Fort Pond in Montauk, Kellis Pond in Bridgehampton, Wainscott Pond in Wainscott, Agawam Lake and Mill Pond in Southampton, Maratooka Lake in Mattituck and a portion of Lake Ronkonkoma off Pond Road in the Town of Brookhaven are experiencing blue-green algae blooms.
Some of the sites have been chronic problems, such Lake Ronkonkoma, which is Long Island’s largest lake, while other sites were listed in the last week, including Sagaponack Pond and Little Fresh Pond.
Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, can synthesize potent toxins that can sicken humans and can be lethal to pets and other animals.
A child was hospitalized and a dog died following a blue-green algae bloom in Minnesota last month and a dog died in East Hampton after consuming blue-green algae in 2012.
According to LICCRA, “blue-green algal blooms are promoted by heavy loading of nitrogen and phosphorus and high temperatures. Hence, the warm weather forecast for the coming week could intensify these events or see them continue to spread to other water bodies.”
Cyanobacteria are naturally present in lakes and streams in low numbers; but when they become abundant they form blooms in shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red.
They may produce floating scums on the surface of the water, or may cause the water to take on paint-like appearance.
The Suffolk County Health Department is asking the public to avoid contact with waters that appear scummy or discolored and to seek medical attention if any of the following symptoms occur after contact: nausea, vomiting or diarrhea; skin, eye or throat irritation; or allergic reactions or breathing difficulties.
The health department is asking the public to report suspected cyanobacteria blooms at bodies of water that contain a Suffolk County-permitted bathing beach to contact Suffolk County Department of Health Services’ Office of Ecology at 631.852.5760.
The DEC’s Division of Water should be notified of possible blooms in areas that don’t contain a county-permitted bathing beach. They can be reached at 518.402.8179.