Pilot program to tackle dangerous algae blooms in Long Island

SOUTHHAMPTON, Long Island -- Although an "algae bloom" may sound innocuous, it can be dangerous, claiming the lives of nine dogs across the country over the summer. It is now plaguing bodies of water on Long Island, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is taking emergency action to try to stop it.

The Cuomo administration recently learned of new technology to remove the harmful algae blooms. Florida, which has its own state algae task force, is one of the only other states to use it.

A pilot program will test this new filtration technology over the next two weeks in Lake Agawam in Southampton, long plagued by algae, and similar bodies of water across the state.

The 40-acre body of water is regularly attacked by the blue-green algae blooms, or cyanobacteria, which are fueled by heat, phosphorus, and nitrogen.

"For those who live around here, the new technology can't come soon enough. Last year, Lake Agawam had the densest algal bloom ever recorded in a Long Island body of water," said Elizabeth Yastrzemski, a Southampton Village resident.

Climate change is a likely reason for the increase in these algae blooms. Much of the nitrogen in Lake Agawam comes from runoff from the Southampton village business district. Other sources can include rain runoff from lawns and faulty septic systems.

Because of the algae, residents cannot use, swim or wade in the lake, and are advised to keep pets and children away.

Similar warnings have been issued around several lakes in New Jersey, including Lake Hopatcong.

Exposure can cause a range of health effects, including rashes, allergy-like reactions, flu-like symptoms, gastroenteritis, respiratory irritation, skin rashes, and eye irritation.

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