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Home » » DEC launches annual reporting system for harmful algal blooms

DEC launches annual reporting system for harmful algal blooms

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 7/3/24 | 7/3/24

By Jennifer Patterson

It’s that time of year again.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently launched the 2024 New York Harmful Algal Bloom System, which allows the public to send reports of algae blooms to DEC electronically.

“As New York experiences warming temperatures, DEC is working closely with the State Department of Health and our local partners to investigate harmful algal blooms (HABs) and make significant investments to prevent excess nutrients and other contaminants from negatively affecting water quality,” said DEC Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar. “DEC’s updated map and reporting system allows for more effective monitoring of potential threats to the health or recreational use of water bodies, and we encourage New Yorkers to be on the lookout for HABs and report any sightings.”

Blooms are likely triggered by a combination of factors that include excess nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen, lots of sunlight, low water or low-flow conditions, calm water and warm temperatures. Harmful algal bloom occurrence and reporting typically increase each year through the warmest months, with the most reports received during August and September. 

HABs were reported throughout Schoharie County and around the Capital Region last summer, including at Thompsons Lake and Bear Gulch Pond, as well as Vlaie Pond.

While most algae are harmless and act as an important part of the food web, the DEC said residents should still “Know it, Avoid it, and Report it” when it comes to blooms, which can vary in appearance. Some look like scattered green dots in the water or long, linear green streaks, while others resemble thick pea soup or green paint. They also range in color from green to blue-green to white.

Some HABs produce toxins while others do not, but exposure to either can pose health risks to people and be deadly to pets, especially dogs that swim. They are also detrimental to fish and other wildlife.

“Exposure to harmful algae blooms can cause health effects in people and animals, including pets, when water with blooms is touched, swallowed, or when airborne droplets are inhaled,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald. “New York State is aggressively proactive in monitoring and combating these blooms to protect public health, and this new map and reporting system will allow New Yorkers to better ‘Know it, Avoid it, and Report it.’”

After a suspected harmful bloom is reported, the DEC uses visual observations, photos and laboratory sampling results to see if cyanobacteria are present.

Once evaluated by DEC and DOH, reports are posted to the harmful algal blooms notification page at An interactive map shows bodies of water around the state where these blooms have been reported and confirmed. It also details both current and archived reports, as well as the extent of the bloom in a body of water.

To date, New York has awarded more than $428 million in grants designed to reduce the frequency of algal blooms across the state by targeting phosphorus and nitrogen pollution, and more than $14 million to research and development, pilot projects and advanced monitoring.

To report a suspected harmful algal bloom, go to Symptoms or health concerns should be reported to the DOH at 

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