ALBANY, N.Y, (NEWS10) – This week, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced its annual system to help track the spread of harmful growths in state lakes and other water bodies. The 2022 “NYHABS” notification and reporting system is online now, to help residents and the DEC to report and track harmful algal blooms.

The system includes a map of verified algal bloom locations, as well as the ability to filter by specific criteria. There is also a form that residents can use to report a potential hazard growing in the water near them, no matter where in the state it is.

“As we enter the warmer months, New Yorkers should be aware that the primary exposure to harmful algae blooms is through recreational contact. New York State beaches close swim areas when any suspicious blooms are sighted and New York State public drinking water supplies have effective protocols and treatment for HABs and toxins,” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “It’s easy to avoid risks by staying away from any discolored waters, blooms and scums and recreating in areas where the water is clear. People should always rinse off if they have had contact with a bloom and immediately seek veterinarian care if noticing any symptoms in your pets if they consumed bloom material or had contact with blooms.”

Harmful algal blooms are potentially toxic growths that feed on excess nutrient runoff, and have been found in state water bodies including Lake George in recent years. Blooms have been found there as early as last summer. Three blooms were found at three locations in the area of Hall’s Marina, near the village of Lake George.

There are also several types of blooms that residents can watch out for. They can appear streaked, dotted, or like a thick pea soup or swirl of green paint. The toxins generated from blooms can affect the health of humans and animals, including livestock.

The DEC has monitored harmful algal blooms across New York starting in 2012. When blooms are identified, the DEC works with the state DOH, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and any relevant local partners. For example, when blooms have been found on Lake George, involved parties have included Warren County and the Lake George Association.

Work from past algal blooms on Lake George has since been used to help in the fight elsewhere. Last year, the Jefferson Project shared research from the North Country lake with researchers at Chautauqua Lake in western New York.