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DEC says Black Lake is safe now that algae bloom is gone

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The state Department of Environmental Conservation has declared Black Lake clear of the harmful blue-green algae bloom that affected parts of the 20-mile long lake earlier this summer.

“There’s been some rain, some cooler days in late August, so the bloom dissipated,” said Stephen Litwhiler, the DEC’s Region 6 spokesman.

DEC alerted the public to the algae bloom on Aug. 14.

While algae blooms are common on the lake, the blue-green algae bloom was worrisome due to the production of dangerous toxins that can cause sickness or death in pets if ingested.

“Rains, currents in the lake, winds and mixing will dilute any toxins that were there and that haven’t been broken down to imperceptible and, therefore, nonhazardous levels,” said Black Lake Association President Richard Henderson in an email message.

“When the algae is gone, those particular toxins are also gone,” said Mr. Litwhiler.

“The lake’s waters remain relatively warm, and fishing is good,” said Mr. Henderson.

However, while the bloom itself may be gone, Clarkson University biology professor Michael R. Twiss said last month that the toxin could have a lingering effect as it works its way up the food chain and can accumulate in fish.

“You get a bloom of algae and you can see it, but then the organisms have to consume it,” said Mr. Twiss, adding that some of the toxin has been shown to work its way into the flesh of fish.

This means fish caught later in the season could still be toxic.

Mr. Henderson said studies have been inconclusive.

“There hasn’t been enough research in that area to know whether or not there’s an issue with that or even what part of the food chain is most affected,” Mr. Henderson said. “Scientists don’t even know if the toxin is cleared somehow from certain animals, or how rapidly it clears or doesn’t clear.”

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