While not labeled a climate indicator by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the steady increase in the number of lakes in our Rochester, NY region getting nailed by blue-green algae blooms spells Climate Change. More nutrients mixing with warmer waters, and heavy precipitation (which is on the EPA’s indicator list) are a likely sign of Climate Change in our region. Over the last few years, there’s been an astonishing increase in blue-green algae blooms and this problem isn’t going to go away by ignoring Climate Change.
Blue-green algae blooms reported in 7 Finger Lakes, including Skaneateles It's been a bad week for the Finger Lakes and blue-green algae — a very bad week indeed. Canandaigua, Keuka, Cayuga, Conesus, Honeoye and Owasco, all Finger Lakes, appear on the NYS DEC harmful algal bloom notification list that was updated this afternoon. Joining them is a real eye-opener: Skaneateles Lake, which reported a bloom this week for the first time since public tracking of them began in 2009. The discovery set off alarm bells in Syracuse, which draws unfiltered drinking water from the lake. Until now, many had thought it all but impossible for blue-green algae to bloom to any great degree in Skaneateles, one of the cleanest of the Finger Lakes. (September 15, 2017) Rochester Democrat and Chronicle [more on Climate Change and Water Quality and Finger Lakes in our area]
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation counts over 50 waterbodies statewide with confirmed or suspicious harmful algae outbreaks this year: Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) Notifications Page
Our drinking water, our shoreline property values, and the invaluable ecosystems that are our lakes are under threat and we must address this.
Scientists predict that climate change will have many effects on freshwater and marine environments. These effects, along with nutrient pollution, might cause harmful algal blooms to occur more often, in more waterbodies and to be more intense. Algal blooms endanger human health, the environment and economies across the United States. (Climate Change and Harmful Algal Blooms, Environmental Protection Agency)
It is less likely we’ll be able to address what will likely be more algal blooms if we fail to understand the Climate Change component. We are cooking our lakes and streams with everything we and Nature have put into them, which makes solutions for their sustainability impossible without dealing with the heat.