Health officials are warning people away from three new water bodies on the East End after they discovered blue-green algae blooms there, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the county health department announced Friday.
Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, have now exceeded "bloom criteria" in Old Town Pond in Southampton, Kellis Pond in Bridgehampton and Wainscott Pond in Wainscott. The excess of cyanobacteria also remains a problem at Agawam Lake and Mill Pond in Southampton, Maratooka Lake in Mattituck, and at parts of Lake Ronkonkoma, which has been closed since July 10 due to high levels of bacteria.
Residents are warned not to use, swim or wade in these water bodies, and to keep their pets and children away. The problem is especially severe at Agawam Lake, where levels of cyanobacteria and associated toxins are "very high," health officials said.
While cyanobacteria are naturally present in lakes and streams in low numbers, they can become abundant, forming blooms in green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red. The blooms might form floating scums on the water's surface or cause the water to develop a paint-like appearance, health officials said.
Avoid waters that look scummy or discolored, and rinse off with clean water if contact does occur. Exposure can cause nausea, vomiting or diarrhea; skin, eye or throat irritation; allergic reactions or difficulty breathing, the state DEC said.
Report a suspected blue-green algae bloom at a Suffolk beach by calling the Suffolk County Department of Health Services at 631-852-5760. For bodies of water outside Suffolk, call the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation at 518-402-8179.