State responding to algal blooms in water source
The State of New York has earmarked more than $2 million to improve the drinking water treatment systems in Auburn and Owasco, N.Y., according to Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Both systems, which serve approximately 50,000 people, were plagued by the presence of cyanotoxins produced by harmful blue-green algae blooms in 2016. The levels of those toxins never reached a level of concern, but nonetheless required observation and regular testing for several weeks.
"Thousands of Central New Yorkers rely on Owasco Lake as a source for drinking water, making the discovery of this contamination a real threat to our communities," said Cayuga County Legislature Chair Keith Batman. "With this funding secured, Cayuga County residents can now be assured that there is a clear path forward."
The money allotted by the state will be used to design, engineer and build upgrades to Auburn and Owasco's treatment systems; $150,000 will be spent to study the best treatment strategy; and $2 million will be used to implement the strategy.
Blue-green algae is concerning to health officials because it produces toxins that could pose a health risk to both people and animals when it is exposed in large quantities. Health officials are particularly concerned about what could happen if it is swallowed while swimming or if it comes in contact with skin.
Studies show that consuming the water containing the high levels of the algae becomes associated with health effects on the liver and the nervous system. Direct contact or breathing in the algae during swimming or showering can result in irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat and inflammation in the respiratory tract.