The 2018 Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) Notification Page for Owasco Lake

Protecting Our Lake:

Did you know that Cayuga County is fortunate to have a watershed inspector working to protect our 205 square mile Owasco Lake watershed? Many counties don’t. Our inspector works under the supervision of the county’s Owasco Lake Watershed Management Council, an inter-agency body charged with care for Owasco’s watershed. The council needs everyone’s support to bring our lake back to best health, and YOU are integral to that goal.

When you are out on the shore, your dock, a boat, and you find discolored, greenish-colored water in the lake that you think might be a HAB (Harmful Algal Bloom), report it to our Watershed Inspector Specialist. Call or text 315-427-5188.

You also may contact Andrew Snell, Watershed Specialist inspector at:
Include in your message the date, time and general location. Sending along a photo will help the inspector or a trained volunteer know whether to inspect the site in person and possibly take a sample for analysis.

Protecting Yourself:

Please visit the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC’s) HAB Information Page, to learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones from HABs. Be extra cautious with young children and family pets; they can be especially susceptible to HAB toxins.


HABs (Harmful Algal Blooms) can come and go hourly.  This makes updating the public on current conditions difficult to impossible.  Weekly summaries of HAB patterns on our lake helps increase our knowledge of when, where, and under what conditions HABs are most likely to occur.

The single most important strategy for keeping ourselves safe from HABs is to avoid discolored or scummy water.

HABs on Owasco Lake:  A Weekly Update

OWLA Weekly HAB Monitoring and Testing:

To assist our watershed inspector’s efforts, the all-volunteer Owasco Watershed Lake Association provides trained observers and a coordinator to run the DEC’s HAB Shoreline Surveillance Program for Owasco Lake. The program runs from July through early October, when blooms are most likely to occur. The DEC began this work in 2016 with the goal of increasing public awareness about HABs. Our volunteers walk shoreline all around the lake every Monday between the hours of 10am and 2pm, looking for evidence of HABs. If they see a suspicious bloom, they photograph the bloom and take a sample. Volunteers transport samples to the lab at the Upstate Freshwater Institute (UFI) in Syracuse.

Testing Results:

Results confirming a bloom generally are available within 24 hours. Toxicity levels, if present, take several days to confirm. UFI submits test results to the DEC in Albany. The DEC then sends the data to regional/local agencies weekly for public dissemination.

Owasco Lake HAB Tracking:

The Owasco Lake Watershed Management Council tracks the sampling results from the shoreline surveillance program; you can find those results using the map below.

Click any zone on the map to see the summary of results for that zone. The first page is a seasonal summary table including all the zones.

How to view Testing Results:

This map links to the the sampling results from the shoreline surveillance program.

-Click any zone on the map to see the summary of results for that zone.

-The first page is a seasonal summary table including all the zones.

-Blank fields indicate no suspicious activity, no testing required.

iPHONE USERS: WE RECOMMEND USING GOOGLE SHEETS. You can download Google Sheets in the App Store.

This information is updated weekly.

What can you do to HELP?

Protecting Owasco Lake is essential to the maintenance of our community character and the improvement of our economic future. We encourage everyone to help the Owasco Watershed Lake Association personally and/or financially. By this commitment you will help keep Owasco Lake clean and safe.