LAKE PLACID — A harmful algal bloom has been discovered on Mirror Lake for the first time, and it has the potential to sicken people or pets who swim in the waterbody at the heart of the village.
The bloom was found on Monday at the south end of the lake, where the public beach is located, by a concerned citizen who contacted the Mirror Lake Watershed Association to report it. The discovery was confirmed by the Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute on Tuesday.
“Our volunteers took quick action upon receiving the report,” MLWA President Bill Billerman said in a statement.
A sample of the bloom was delivered to the AWI lab on Monday and analyzed, according to a news release from AWI. The dominant algae was later confirmed to be dolichospermum lemmermannii, a species of cyanobacteria, which could produce cyanotoxins. The state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Harmful Algal Bloom Program has also confirmed AWI’s findings and added it to the state database.
“Cyanobacteria are a natural part of the lake’s biotic community,” Brendan Wiltse, AWI’s water quality director and former science and stewardship director for the Ausable River Association, said in a statement Tuesday. Wiltse has spent years studying Mirror Lake’s water quality.
“The concern arises when dense blooms form,” he added. “These blooms are capable of producing toxins that can be harmful to humans and animals. It is important to note that the presence of a bloom does not necessarily mean that toxins are present.”
If humans or animals touch or swallow water with harmful algal blooms — or inhale airborne droplets — they may experience adverse health effects, according to AWI. According to the state Department of Health, if someone is exposed to high levels of the algae and its toxins, it may cause diarrhea, nausea or vomiting; skin, eye or throat irritation; allergic reactions or breathing issues.
“At this time of year, our primary concern is the safety of dogs and other pets that may enter the lake,” Billerman said. “We encourage the public to avoid letting their dogs enter the water if they are suspicious of whether a bloom is present.”
Those who do come in contact with floating mats, scums or discolored water should rinse themselves — or their pets — off with clean water afterward, according to AWI.
The existence of this harmful algal bloom doesn’t impact the village’s drinking water, which is sourced from Lake Placid, not Mirror Lake, according to Wiltse. The bloom had begun to dissapate Tuesday, Wiltse said, but AWI’s staff and volunteers will continue to check on it.
The cause of this algal bloom is unclear — it’s too early to say for sure, according to AWI — but the possibility of this happening has been talked about by scientists for many years. A report co-authored by Wiltse and Adirondack Watershed Institute researchers Elizabeth Yerger and Corey Laxson showed…