BEMUS POINT – Harmful Algae Blooms are appearing earlier than usual this year on Chautauqua Lake.
Earlier this month, the first reported Bloom was spotted in the waters at Shermans Bay west of the Village of Lakewood.
“Unfortunately, we have seen a few small localized blooms in Chautauqua Lake. They’ve been mostly in the Southern Basin area but we have seen blooms in the Long Point Marina area, in the Bemus area,” explains Chautauqua County Environmental Health Director, Jessica Wuerstle.
Harmful Algae Blooms thrive best near-shore and in stagnant waters.
“We normally don’t start seeing, or at least don’t start hearing regular reports of blooms until mid-July, late-July, early August,” says the Director. “Unfortunately, this is just one of those things Western New York, it’s all very weather dependent. So you get these nice warm sunny calm days, and that’s exactly what that blue-green algae wants, and they do really well under those conditions.”
Though these blooms are not new to the lake, the Health Department encourages people and pets to stay away from the algae.
“When it blooms, there’s the possibility that toxins will be released, and unfortunately, there’s no visual cue if a bloom is releasing toxins or is not releasing toxins,” says Wuerstle.
So, why are these blooms appearing earlier than normal? An increase in concrete surfaces, like local developments, as well as lakefront residents manicured grass lawns are a possible source.
“The lack of the natural wetlands that are around the lake anymore, they’re not able to filter out some of those excess nutrients,” explains Wuerstle. “Or the increased amount of runoff that’s allowing those nutrients to runoff into the lake.”
If you notice a new bloom, the DEC encourages you to complete a form so they can track the algae. Residents can also contact the Chautauqua County Health Department directly.
After spending time in the lake, experts say a quick rinse off with clean water can help prevent any worsening symptoms if you come in contact with the algae, especially with dogs.