Help fund HABs monitoring on Cayuga Lake!
Harmful algal blooms (HABs) have become a common sight on Cayuga Lake. These blooms of cyanobacteria can produce toxins that are dangerous to humans, pets, and wildlife. The toxins in these blooms and the uncertainty of when and where they will occur threaten Cayuga Lake as a natural resource for drinking water, recreation, and tourism. HABs can be difficult to identify without proper training and analytical tools are needed to distinguish HABs from false alarms. Lake users should be alerted about an area affected by HABs through a notification system that is and grounded in scientific understanding. The Community Science Institute (CSI), in collaboration with the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network and Discover Cayuga Lake, developed the Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring Program to meet this need!
Alongside a team of dedicated volunteers, we are building local awareness of HABs and doing the science needed to study these natural phenomena. The over 90 “HABs Harrier” volunteers of the program survey roughly 50 miles of shoreline per week from early July through late September. Volunteers are trained by CSI, with support from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, to recognize HABs and to report, collect, and transport samples to the CSI lab with chain of custody documentation. CSI lab staff analyze each bloom sample for the types of cyanobacteria and the concentrations of chlorophyll and microcystin, the most common cyanotoxin in New York. Through the CSI website, www.communityscience.org, data are publicized in a map and table format shortly after analyses have been completed and checked for quality control. As we compile data each year, we build our capacity to spot trends in HABs occurrence that can help inform management strategies by local governments.
Our target of raising $5,295 reflects both the generous contributions to our program made by Tompkins County and the Park foundation and our continued struggle to find a stable funding source. While running this campaign, we are pursuing other options for funding, and if we are successful, we will update our goal accordingly. We hope you will consider this program worthwhile and make a donation today!
Depending on funding, we aim to conduct three smaller projects during the 2021 HABs season that will broaden our understanding of Cayuga Lake HABs:
1. Sample cyanobacteria populations biweekly under non-bloom conditions at eight locations around Cayuga Lake to investigate possible links between the density of certain cyanobacteria populations, such as Microcystis, and the tendency for HABs to occur.
2. Continuously monitor surface water temperature at two locations in the southern and northern parts of Cayuga Lake to investigate possible links between HABs and temperature changes.
3. Analyze selected HABs from around Cayuga Lake for anatoxin-a, a potent neurotoxin responsible for pet deaths around the country.
Want to learn more about what we do?
Check out the HABs Monitoring Information Page on our website, www.communityscience.org. Stay tuned to this season’s HABs map for the latest HABs reports on Cayuga Lake (updated almost daily from July-Sept.)! Our HABs-focused Fall 2020 Water Bulletin and Fall 2019 Water Bulletin summarize observations from previous years.
Monitoring HABs is one of the many ways that we partner with communities in our region to protect water. CSI does year-round stream water quality monitoring with two dozen teams of volunteers. We’ve assembled over 90,000 pieces of water quality data through our free to use database at www.database.communityscience.org. Our database also houses the results of our groundwater testing program, which established a baseline against the potential impacts of hydrofracking. Alone the data speaks volumes, but we help give it a voice. Check out our 4-H2O Youth Education Programs, public presentations, community forums, and Water Bulletin Newsletters.