Residents are being advised not to swim or wade in Lake Agawam in Southampton or Big Reed Pond in Montauk because of high levels of toxic cyanobacteria, more commonly known as blue-green algae, confirmed by the State Department of Environmental Conservation. The Suffolk County Health Department also advises keeping children and pets away from both water bodies.
Those who have recently been exposed to cyanobacteria at either body of water and have symptoms—nausea, vomiting or diarrhea; skin, eye or throat irritation; allergic reactions; or breathing difficulties—should seek medical attention, the Health Department says.
Blue-green algae are naturally present in lakes and streams in low numbers but, under certain conditions, can become abundant, forming blooms in shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red. They can produce floating scum on the surface, or cause the water to take on paint-like appearance, an advisory notes. People should avoid contact with waters that appear scummy or discolored, and if they do come in contact, rinse off with clean water immediately.
To report a suspected blue-green algae bloom at a body of water that contains a Suffolk County permitted bathing beach, contact the Suffolk County Department of Health Services’ Office of Ecology at (631) 852-5760. For more information about blue-green algae, visit www.suffolkcountyny.gov.
To report a suspected blue-green algae bloom that’s not at a county-permitted bathing beach, contact the Division of Water at the State Department of Environmental Conservation at (518) 402-8179.