Low Levels of Algal Toxins Detected in Skaneateles Lake Water

Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta announced today that the City of Syracuse has reported low levels of algal toxins found in their routine water samples of the untreated intakes in Skaneateles Lake. Results are well below health advisory limits for the general population. Skaneateles Lake is used by several municipalities as a public drinking water supply.  Small shoreline algal blooms have been confirmed on the lake this week. Samples of both raw and treated drinking water are being tested now and the community will be informed of the results. Enhanced monitoring through daily testing will continue until all samples consistently return to non-detectable results.

The Onondaga County Health Department reminds residents to NEVER drink untreated surface water, whether or not harmful algal blooms are present. Residents who draw water directly from the lake through near-shore PRIVATE INTAKES should take the following precautions:

  • DO NOT USE the water for potable purposes such as drinking, making infant formula, making ice, brushing teeth, preparing food, or washing dishes, or for pets.
  • If either algae blooms or scums are present in the vicinity of your water intake, do not use the water for bathing.

To be clear, these recommendations apply only to residents with private intakes; in-home treatments such as boiling, disinfecting water with chlorine or ultraviolet radiation (UV), and water filtration units do not remove the toxins associated with harmful algal blooms.

The Health Department recommends taking the following additional precautions:

  • Do not swim, wade, or fish near algae blooms or surface scums
  • Do not let dogs wade, drink the water, or walk on algae-contaminated shoreline debris
  • Rinse yourself and pets with clean water if exposed to algae
  • Anyone who experiences skin or eye irritation or gastrointestinal illness should contact their health care provider.

Learn more about blue-green algae: