The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has reported this week that cyanobacteria, which is more commonly referred to as blue-green algae, has been reported in Old Town Pond in Southampton, Kellis Pond in Bridgehampton and Wainscott Pond in Wainscott. Blue-green algae have also been reported in Agawam Lake and Mill Pond in Southampton.
Health officials have warned residents to not drink, swim or wade in these waters and to keep children and pets away from them. Extra precautions should be taken to avoid direct exposure to waters at Agawam Lake, as levels of the bacteria and its associated toxins are very high.
Cyanobacteria are naturally present in lakes and streams in low numbers. They become dangerous when they form blooms in shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red. They may produce floating scums on the surface of the water, or may cause the water to take on paint-like appearance.
Contact with waters that appear scummy or discolored should be avoided. If contact does occur, you should rinse yourself off with clean water immediately. Medical attention should be sought if any of the following symptoms occur after contact: nausea, vomiting or diarrhea; skin, eye or throat irritation; or allergic reactions or breathing difficulties.
To report a suspected cyanobacteria bloom at a Suffolk County beach, contact the Suffolk County Department of Health Services’ Office of Ecology at 852-5760. In all other instances, reports can be made to the DEC’s Division of Water at (518)402-8179.