Health Department Talks Harmful Algal Blooms at Let’s Talk Lakes Conference

This past Friday, Public Health Sanitarian Vincent Perrin presented information on the trends of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Putnam County at the Let’s Talk Lakes Conference at Sedgewood Club. The health department tracks these blooms at public beaches to protect the health of residents and their pets. The blue-green algae that create these blooms may produce toxins that can cause health effects for people and pets if ingested, inhaled, or through skin contact. Understanding when and where the HABs occur allow for frequent monitoring and implementation of preventive actions.

Public beach closures due to HABs or elevated coliform levels are updated daily Monday through Friday on the health department website at If you see what looks like HABs on the water, don’t go in and make sure to tell the beach operator, staff, or lifeguard. HABs on public beaches can also be reported to the health department by calling 845-808-1390.  Some pictures of HABs can be found on the same website as the closures—however, appearance of HABs varies in color from blue-green, green, yellow, white, and even purple. The blooms typically look like spilled paint but can also look like discolored water, scum, or mats. HABs can appear and disappear very quickly and a beach that was clear in the morning may not be safe to swim in the afternoon.

Organized by Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Let’s Talk Lakes Conference included presentations by experts providing information to help people who live on and care about lakes learn how to best keep lakes clean and healthy for their continued enjoyment. You can find more information about the conference at