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Algal blooms in Lake Agawam targeted by state

Toxic blue-green algae has been found in Southampton

Toxic blue-green algae has been found in Southampton Village's Lake Agawam, seen here on Aug. 29. Credit: Chris Ware

State officials said Thursday they will try to clean up harmful algal blooms in Southampton Village’s Lake Agawam using new technology.

Officials said they will test an algae harvester for two weeks and then consider expanding its use statewide. 

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said while “there is no simple answer” for algal blooms, which he said get worse every year, but officials want to “get ahead of the curve.”

“If it works, it is very promising,” Cuomo said of the algae harvester.

The harvester draws algae from the surface of the water. The algae then can be disposed of at a county treatment facility.

Officials will analyze data from the pilot program to determine whether and how to use the technology next year, said Basil Seggos, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation. 

Cuomo called Lake Agawam, “one of the more challenging demonstration sites” for the technology because algal blooms have been particularly severe there.

The lake has record high levels of blue-green algae.

“This is an incredible opportunity, not just for Southampton, but for the state,” said Jesse Warren, Southampton Village mayor.

The pilot program is part of the state’s $82 million initiative to study, respond to and prevent harmful algal blooms, officials said.

The blooms have been detected in more than 400 bodies of water in New York since 2012. They are caused by a changing climate, pollutants, fertilizer and high nitrogen levels, Cuomo said.

Exposure to blooms can sicken humans and pets.

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