Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Toxic Algae Found in Some New York City Ponds

A sign warned of an algae bloom in the Lake in Central Park, advising to keep animals away and not to drink from, wade in or fish in the water. Credit, Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

Lisa W. Foderaro reports for the New York Times:

Summer is here, and the lakes and ponds that dot New York City’s parks are awash in algae. Much of it is just unsightly. But some types, like the blue-green algae in the Lake in the southern half of Central Park, can be harmful, causing rashes on people and posing a lethal risk to dogs.

Blue-green algae can be hard to see. Its hallmark is a uniform green hue, sometimes with large swirls — as if someone spilled pale green paint on the darker green surface.

There is no simple fix for blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, which is caused by an excess of nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen in the water. In most parts of the country, those nutrients result from storm water and agricultural runoff, fertilizers, dog waste and nearby septic tanks.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has tracked the presence of so-called harmful algal blooms since 2012, and this year, the season is off to a robust start. Each week, the department’s website  updates a list of sites statewide with suspicious or confirmed blooms. It now includes 30 lakes and ponds.

“By August, we usually have 70 to 80 ponds and lakes on the list,” said Rebecca Gorney, a research scientist for the department, which has no oversight of New York City parks.

Read the full story here

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