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Sep 14, 2018 12:11 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Lake Agawam Coated By Worst Algae Bloom Ever Recorded On Long Island

An aerial view of the blue-green algae bloom in Lake Agawam in Southampton Village on Monday.
Sep 14, 2018 12:11 PM

Scientists from Stony Brook University say that a toxic algae bloom in Southampton Village’s centerpiece Lake Agawam this week exceeded levels of anything ever recorded in a Long Island water body.

The incredibly dense blooms of the blue-green algae microcystis crowded out even water in some parts of the lake this week as the bloom exploded to hundreds of times EPA thresholds for harmful conditions.

The EPA sets the threshold for a harmful algae bloom as 25 micrograms of algae per 1 liter of water. In August, the levels in Agawam were about 80 micrograms per liter, or mpl. By Labor Day weekend, spurred by high nighttime temperatures and regular rainfall, the levels had leaped to over 10,000 mpl. This week, the Stony Brook team measured levels of 76,000 mpl in Lake Agawam.

“When we took samples this week, it was 80 to 90 percent solid, and only 10 percent liquid, it was that dense,” said Dr. Christopher Gobler, a Stony Book University researcher who leads the team of marine biologists that oversees water testing and algae monitoring throughout Long Island. “This breaks all records of anything we’ve ever observed anywhere on Long Island in the last 15 years of monitoring.”

The algae species microcystis that has taken over Lake Agwam naturally emits a toxin, known as microcystin, that can be harmful or even fatal to humans and animals if ingested. In 2012, a dog died after drinking water in Georgica Pond in East Hampton that contained a blue green algae bloom at far lower levels than what is found in Lake Agawam currently.

The Stony Brook scientist said that people should keep animals away from the pond’s shoreline and should avoid contact with the water. Even if not ingested, the algae could cause skin irritations.

Algae blooms have been shown to feed on nitrogen and other nutrients carried into water bodies by groundwater flow contaminated with residential septic system waste and rain runoff that carries fertilizers and other chemicals from lawns and roadways.

Lake Agawam has a long history of being impacted by dense blooms, thanks to being the end point for drainage from dozens of streets around the village’s business district, up to a mile away.

Despite years of study and concern about the health of the lake, village officials have been unable to identify and mobilize a solution to the pond’s chronic woes.

Dr. Gobler said that the current health threat posed by the dense algae bloom is not the only concern for the lake. When temperatures cool and the algae begins to die off, the decaying process will suck oxygen from the surrounding water and could cause a fish-kill, as occurred in 1997, 2002 and 2006.

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Yucky! There are fewer and fewer ponds/lakes that are fiahable/swimable on the South fork and the problem is going to get worse. A municipal wastewater treatment plant is badly needed, just don't put it anywhere I'll ever see it ; /
By Aeshtron (129), Southampton on Sep 14, 18 2:24 PM
Sewer district is desperately needed.
By Mouthampton (408), Southampton on Sep 14, 18 2:38 PM
Too much duck poop.
By V.Tomanoku (651), southampton on Sep 14, 18 3:27 PM
2 members liked this comment
Nuke the hamptons
By greenmonster (18), southampton on Sep 14, 18 5:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
This has been an ongoing problem for over sixty years. I remember a
substantial fish kill in the lake back in the late 50’s.
By Jimion (112), Hampton Bays on Sep 14, 18 5:20 PM
What an honor.
By even flow (757), East Hampton on Sep 14, 18 5:54 PM
1 member liked this comment
Hmmm raining all the time and duck poop. Sounds like massive runoff from Hill st, but know the idiots will blame septic systems. They need drainage and to drain the lake.
By chief1 (2516), southampton on Sep 14, 18 7:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By pw herman (1093), southampton on Sep 15, 18 9:19 AM
Chlorinate it.
By chief1 (2516), southampton on Sep 15, 18 9:36 AM
This is so dumb. Take a good look at an aerial photo around the lake. Take a good look at all those green lawns that go right up to waters edge. There is a law on the books saying there should be 50’ between shoreline and grass so chemicals used on grass don’t run into the lake. No one is following the rule and the village isn’t enforcing the rule. Selective enforcement just like usual. Go to those houses and start writing big fines. Enforce the law you have on the books.
By icecreamman (388), Southampton on Sep 16, 18 8:10 AM
if you think the pond is polluted because of lawns you are insane. Millions of gallons of street runoff end up in there. The whole village runs down into the lake.
By chief1 (2516), southampton on Sep 16, 18 5:24 PM
Dennis Finnerty & Jay Jacobs are also making this possible on Little Fresh Pond in North Sea.
By pw herman (1093), southampton on Sep 16, 18 7:26 PM
The latest culinary trend...vegan algae/pond-scum burger on rye. It’s absolutely killer!
By SDG1776 (89), Southampton on Sep 17, 18 6:08 AM
The member is the Southampton Association who live on the lake and have done this insist they care about the village and are not self centered hypocrites
By SlimeAlive (950), Southampton on Sep 17, 18 7:34 AM
Google earth Agawam lake and take a good look at the lawns around the lake. Take notice of Charles Stevensons over view of the lake, a natural landscape 200 - 300ft from the lake east to the house and other buildings. A man that thinks a lot of our lake and ecosystem...
Others should take notice...
By knitter (1430), Southampton on Sep 17, 18 8:05 PM
harbor hot tubs,