The Finger Lakes Institute at HWS will host a discussion on blue-green algae, the cause of the recent drinking water ban that affected hundreds of thousands of people in Ohio and Michigan. Measurable amounts of similary types of toxins were found in Honeoye and Owasco Lake samples in recent years. “The HABs and HAB Nots – Impact of the Built Environment on Blue-green Algal Growth and Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in the Finger Lakes,” a presentation by Clifford Callinan, P.E., with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, will discuss the connections among blue-green algae, harmful algal blooms, Finger Lakes water quality, and drinking water systems.
“To prevent what’s happening in Toledo from happening here, we need to reduce the amount of nutrients in the lake water,” explains Lisa Cleckner, director of the FLI. “But this is complicated by land use, weather and temperatures, so this is what Cliff will be discussing.”
The presentation is part of the U.S. Green Building Council New York Upstate Chapter Finger Lakes/Southern Tier Region’s Sustainable Speakers Series and will take place on Thursday, Aug. 21 from 4:30 to 8 p.m. In addition to the presentation, the event will include a tour of the Finger Lakes Institute, networking and a picnic buffet.
Callinan will also explain implications for human health from drinking and recreating in waters with HABs, and describe factors that contribute to the proliferation of nuisance algae in surface waters. Finally, the impact of land use and the built environment on water quality and algal growth in rural and urban settings will be explored.
Earlier this month, the DEC and Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association established an algae bloom hotline to help monitor algae blooms on Seneca Lake. Last summer, the SLPWA and Professor of Environmental Studies John Halfman noted an increase in algae blooms along Seneca Lake, although not all were confirmed to be blue-green. The hotline will help the DEC identify types of blooms and whether or not there is blue-green algae present by asking residents to share photos. The DEC will then be able to identify blooms that require further testing.
The presentation is designed to help attendees differentiate among algae, blue-green algae, and harmful algal blooms occurrences in lakes and what is “natural;” recognize the risks to human health associated with harmful algal blooms and understand the regulatory framework for managing these risks; relate land-use and stormwater impacts to the growth and stimulation of blue-green algae in lakes; and determine personal and organizational behavior changes that may reduce the growth of blue-green algae in lakes.
Callinan grew up in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. He received a bachelor of science in biology and a master’s in civil/environmental engineering from Cornell University. He has worked for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for more than 20 years on a wide range of water related projects. He currently focuses on water quality studies of lakes throughout New York State and United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) funded investigations directed at the development of numeric nutrient criteria for the protection of drinking waters. His findings have received significant interest from USEPA as well as several other states and municipalities.
Registration for the event is required by Aug. 18, and can be done online. The cost is $20 for chapter members; $25 for the general public and $20 for students.