NIAGARA FALLS – Potentially harmful blue-green algae blooms have appeared in the upper eastern portion of Hyde Park Lake, near Gill Creek, a result of this summer’s hot and dry weather.
Health and environmental officials surmised that the unusually hot and dry weather are the main factors that led to stagnant water – and the algae bloom.
Algae blooms like the one discovered in Hyde Park Lake look like pea soup or spilled paint and can be harmful to people and animals, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. They can also have an unpleasant odor. “One possibility is high water temperatures and low flow,” Mayor Paul A. Dyster said.
Also, lot of geese have been in that area, he said, and a recent rainstorm may have sent their droppings into the water, increasing phosphorus and bacteria levels.
The city, working with the Niagara County Health Department, posted warning signs over the weekend, Dyster said.
Some fish and frogs have been seen in the algae area, leading officials to believe the level of toxicity may not be very high, Dyster said. Still, city and state officials are discouraging any fishing and boating in that area.
Dyster noted that the area in question is upstream of where people are supposed to be fishing and said it would be “odd” for someone in a kayak to travel that far upstream. But he added, that any kayaker who comes into contact with the bloom should thoroughly wash paddles and hands.
The White Nine portion of Hyde Park Golf Course, which is closest to the waterway, has been cordoned off to discourage golfers from going into the water to retrieve their balls. Golfers were given fliers telling them not to go near the water.
One brief downpour of rain over the weekend increased the water flow and broke up some of the algae, but algae still remains.
The New York Power Authority on Tuesday morning began increasing water flow from the reservoir to Gill Creek, which then flows into Hyde Park Lake. Dyster said the power authority is able to turn on a valve to allow the water to trickle into the creek. The city environmental department and Department of Public Works will monitor the increased flow.
“Stagnation is the problem,” said Dyster. Increasing the flow will help dissipate the algae, he said.