WXXI AM News

Community effort underway to monitor Canandaigua Lake’s water clarity

Aug 3, 2021

Credit canandaigualakeassoc.org

A new program is pairing residents with an organization that urges everyone in the region to become stewards of Canandaigua Lake through education and scientific research and by advocating for sound public policy.

Lindsay McMillan, director of the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association, said heavy rains last month likely added nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen to the water system. That increases the chance for algal blooms, typically a bigger problem in August and September.

“When the conditions are just right, when we have those kind of dry, calm, sunny days, if we have enough nutrients in our system, and the conditions are right, that's kind of the perfect storm for these algal blooms," she said.

Algal blooms can produce toxins that can be harmful to both people and pets.

She said about 70 volunteers on the lake are using what's called a Secchi disc, which measures water transparency, and a reduction in clarity is a telltale sign of a problem.

"That means there's more algal activity picking up in the water column," she said. "So that's a really good indicator of a potential algal bloom."

McMillan said recent readings show an increase in water clarity, but it doesn't mean they are out of the woods yet because August and September make up the typical bloom season.

She added that while the association runs the volunteer component, many other organizations are also closely tracking watershed health, such as the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Council, local municipalities and research entities.