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Algae blooms threaten NY waterways


ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – According to data released by an environmental group on Wednesday, the drinking water for hundreds of thousands in upstate New York could be threatened by the growth of Harmful Algal Blooms.

“These problems simply have not been cleaned up in nearly 20 years,” Walter Hang, President of Toxics Targeting Inc., said.

Toxics Targeting, an environmental group out of Ithaca, released a statewide map that shows the growth of harmful algal blooms in over 200 lakes and streams, allegedly threatening the drinking water for residents in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and more.

“The next thing you know, a large body of water will literally look like pea soup.”

These algal blooms are caused by many different toxins including industrial and even farm waste run-off. These blooms release neurotoxins which in high doses, could cause health problems if consumed.

There are ways to get rid of the harmful algal blooms, but it takes extensive treatments using carbon filtering. According to Toxics Targeting, the problem is not being addressed by the state.

“The longstanding problem that New York has failed to resolve. They simply have not enforced the Clean Water Act.”

“We need to figure what we need to target to prevent those blooms from happening. Once they happen treatment is very difficult,” Jacqueline Lendrum, Director of the Bureau of Water Assessment and Management for the DEC, said.

The Department of Environmental Conservation, or the DEC, says it is are working to address the source of contamination, but it has not grown to the point where people need to find an alternative water source, such as bottled water.

“We’ll notify the public if there is any risk to their drinking water supply,” Dr. Lendrum said.

If you do spot blue-green algae in your waterways, do not touch or drink it. Immediately contact the DEC or someone in your local government.

“Don’t swim in them, don’t let your dog swim in them, don’t let your kids play in them, don’t even boat in them,” Dr. Lendrum said. If you see it avoid it and call us because it can be toxic.”

See which waterways are affected in your community.