2018 Cayuga Lake Harmful Algal Bloom Information,
Testing Results, and Resources
Please view the map in full screen mode so that you can see the full extent of information provided. Click on the broken box in the upper right hand corner of the map. This will open the full screen map in a new tab.
The attached map serves as an interactive catalog of all of the reported blooms on Cayuga Lake in 2018. Click on an icon to see important information including a picture of the bloom, location, and results when/if they become available. Yellow icons represent “suspicious” blooms, orange icons represent “confirmed” blooms, and red icons represent “confirmed with high toxins” blooms. Map results are cumulative. It’s important to note the date of sampling because blooms are transient by nature and can disappear in as little as a day. We do not track bloom duration.
A note about the toxin microcystin:
Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) may produce a variety of chemicals that are harmful to other species, including humans. The most common harmful chemical found in New York is microcystin. Detailed toxicity studies have not been performed, and there is not yet a consensus on acceptable exposure levels. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has set upper limits for public drinking water supplies at 0.3 ug/L or parts per billion (ppb) and for public swimming beaches at 4.0 ppb (EPA, 2017). The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) defines a “bloom with high toxin” as 20 ppb near the lake shore and 10 ppb in open water (NYSDEC HABs Program Guide, Section 3).
How to open and read the table:
Note: Table opens in a new tab as a google spreadsheet. You can download the spreadsheet as an excel file to manipulate the data, i.e. data sorting, graphing, cell highlighting, etc.
Increase table size by clicking on the percentage button in the upper left-hand corner of the spreadsheet. The first three columns and first three rows are frozen so that you can more easily scroll through results without losing track of the sample you’re interested in.
Understanding the table:
The table is broken up into four major sections: Basic Bloom Information (green), Bloom Location Information (lavender), CSI Analyses (shades of blue), and NYSDEC Funded Analyses (shades of orange).
Samples that are collected and dropped off at CSI are assigned a unique Bloom Sample Code that have the following format; 18-ZONE-B*. 18 stands for 2018, followed by the zone where the sample was collected (see map with zone polygons), and ending with the next consecutive number. For example, the third suspicious bloom sample collected from zone 3426 would be 18-3426-B3. Bloom Sample Code is the best way to identify a sample and track results in the table.
Basic Bloom Information and Bloom Location Information will be updated upon sample receipt. If testing is warranted by CSI, NYSDEC, or both, the latter sections will say “Testing Results Pending.” If testing is not warranted, reasoning will be provided.
- In most cases, CSI tests for three parameters: microscopy, total chlorophyll a, and microcystin.
- Determination of whether samples receive all three analyses is based on several factors including: bloom location, bloom sample density, visual analysis, lab staff availability, and funding availability.
- All samples received by the CSI lab are assessed by microscopy. Dominant phytoplankton taxa are listed in the “Microscopy” column with cyanobacteria taxa in bold and non-cyanobacteria in regular print.
- Total Chlorophyll a
- Total Chlorophyll a is measured using spectrophotometry.
- Results are reported in units of part per billion (ppb). Results are highlighted in pink.
- In conjunction with microscopy, total chlorophyll a is used to estimate cyanobacterial biomass.
- Please see the above note about the toxin microcystin.
- CSI reports results down to the drinking water standard of 0.3 ppb (EPA, 2015). Results are highlighted in dark pink.
- The CSI Analyses section is updated immediately following assay completion.
NYSDEC Funded Analyses:
- UFI tests for three parameters: microscopy, BG (blue-green or cyanobacterial) chlorophyll a, and microcystin.
- Sample testing funded by NYSDEC is performed at Upstate Freshwater Institute (UFI) in Syracuse, NY. Following bloom sample drop-off at CSI, sample is split, and half is sent to UFI for repeated/additional testing.
- Note: The Cayuga Lake HABs Monitoring Program is operating under a NYSDEC-mandated 40-sample budget for the 2018 HABs season. To ensure that we do not go over budget before the completion of HABs season, several factors are considered when deciding whether to send a split sample to UFI. The reasoning for not sending a sample is provided in the table.
- Dominant phytoplankton taxa are listed in the “Microscopy” column with cyanobacteria taxa in bold and non-cyanobacteria taxa in regular print.
- BG Chlorophyll a
- BG Chlorophyll a is measured using a fluoroprobe.
- Results that are above the NYSDEC threshold of 25 ppb are highlighted in orange.
- Bloom samples with a BG chlorophyll a concentration of 25 ppb or higher are considered “confirmed” by NYSDEC (NYSDEC HABs Program Guide, Section 3)
- Please see the above note about the toxin microcystin.
- Results that are above the NYSDEC threshold of 20 ppb are highlighted in red.
- Bloom samples with a microcystin concentration of 20 ppb or higher are considered “confirmed with high toxins” by NYSDEC (NYSDEC HABs Program Guide, Section 3)
- Note: NYSDEC does not report microcystin concentration if it is below the 20 ppb threshold. Cell will say “Not Available” if microcystin concentration has not been provided by NYSDEC.
- The NYSDEC Funded Analyses section is updated when CSI receives results from NYSDEC.
For more information you can contact:
Cayuga Lake Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring Program Coordinator
Claire Weston, CSI
Resources for HABs Harriers:
- 2018 Cayuga Lake HABs Volunteer Monitoring Information Packet
- NYSDEC HABs Program Guide
- CSI HABs Harrier Training Presentation
- NYSDEC HABs Monitoring Training Presentation
- CSI Shoreline Survey Form/Chain of Custody
- HAB Sample Collection Training Video
- “No Bloom” report
- GPS coordinates retrieval instructions
- HABs Monitoring Program Info Flyer for the general public
- Quadrant Leader Biographies