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Onondaga County, Syracuse officials to monitor Skaneateles Lake for algal blooms

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Officials in central New York are closely watching the water quality of Skaneateles Lake this summer. They're testing specifically for the presence of harmful algal blooms, which turned up in the lake last summer.

The Syracuse Water Department will test for toxins from harmful algal blooms every week at both of the intakes that bring drinking water to thousands of central New Yorkers, including residents of the city of Syracuse. The Onondaga County Health Department will post those results every Thursday on it’s website. Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta said so far no toxins from algal blooms have been detected, and officials are ready if that changes.

"Our role is to make sure this is the level, and if any change happens at that time, what will be the next action, because then we are talking health implications,” said Dr. Gupta.

Health advisories will be issued if there are two consecutive days that turn up levels of toxins that are concerning. In the meantime, Syracuse Water Department Commissioner Joe Awald said the city is considering a number of options to prevent any toxins from algal blooms from getting in the drinking water in the first place.

"One of them is extending the intake in the lake to farther and deeper waters, that allows more contact time with chlorine to help mitigate any additional levels of harmful algal toxin you might encounter,” said Awald.

There hasn't been a lot of heavy rain so far this year, which helped feed blooms last year. Awald said he's hopeful that will keep the algal blooms to a minimum.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.