New York Harmful Algal Bloom System now active

If a harmful algal bloom was seen on Mirror Lake, people would see this sign along the shore with a warning.

ALBANY — State Department of Environmental Conservation Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar and state Department of Health Commissioner James McDonald this week reminded New Yorkers to learn about and be aware of harmful algal blooms, or “HABs,” as the 2024 HABs notification season starts.

DEC’s New York Harmful Algal Bloom System is now active, providing New Yorkers, including trained citizens, to send reports of HABs to the DEC electronically via a simple user- and cellphone-friendly form.

“As New York experiences warming temperatures, DEC is working closely with the state Department of Health and our local partners to investigate harmful algal blooms and make significant investments to prevent excess nutrients and other contaminants from negatively affecting water quality,” Mahar said in a statement. “DEC’s updated map and reporting system allows for more effective monitoring of potential threats to the health or recreational use of waterbodies, and we encourage New Yorkers to be on the lookout for HABs and report any sightings.”

DEC and DOH evaluates HABs reports and once confirmed, reports are posted to the NYHABS page. The system features an interactive map of current and archived bloom locations to help keep New Yorkers informed about potential HABs. With resources such as the online HABs map and reporting system, New York continues to be a national leader in supporting initiatives to address HABs across the state and to ensure effective communication to the public. DEC works with DOH, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and other state and local partners in leading the most comprehensive HABs monitoring and reporting program in the nation. In cooperation with its partners, DEC monitors hundreds of waterbodies annually and works with DOH and OPRHP to ensure the public and environment are protected.

“Exposure to harmful algae blooms can cause health effects in people and animals, including pets, when water with blooms is touched, swallowed, or when airborne droplets are inhaled,” McDonald said. “New York state is aggressively proactive in monitoring and combatting these blooms to protect public health, and this new map and reporting system will allow New Yorkers to better ‘Know it, avoid it and report it.'”

While cyanobacteria are naturally occurring in the environment, certain conditions lead to accumulations that become HABs. Blooms are likely triggered by a combination of factors that include excess nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen, lots of sunlight, low-water or low-flow conditions, calm water, and warm temperatures. HAB occurrence and reporting typically increase throughout the season with the most reports received during the warmest months of August and September. Regardless of the presence of toxins, HABs can pose a risk to public health.

When it comes to HABs, DEC encourages New Yorkers to “Know it, avoid it, report it.”

KNOW IT: HABs vary in appearance from scattered green dots in the water, to long, linear green streaks, pea soup or spilled green paint, to blue-green or white coloration.

AVOID IT: People, pets, and livestock should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has algal scums on the surface.

REPORT IT: If members of the public suspect a HAB, report it through the NYHABs online reporting form available on DEC’s website. Symptoms or health concerns related to HABs should be reported to DOH at harmfulalgae@health.ny.gov.

For more information about HABs, including bloom notifications, which are updated daily through fall, visit DEC’s Harmful Algal Blooms webpage: https://tinyurl.com/47aj9zkf. The HAB Program Guide, which includes information and links to resources regarding bloom prevention, management, and control, can also be downloaded from the DEC website at https://tinyurl.com/2ez8rb27. Visit DOH’s website for DOH’s public health information.


Using the most up-to-date research on controllable causes, DEC established a holistic approach to managing and reducing HABs in the state.

DEC’s approach includes:

– Deliberate Clean Water Planning to improve nutrient reduction efforts;

– Funding to implement nutrient reduction;

– Applied research on HABs; and

– Short-term HAB mitigation efforts.

Combining these long- and short-term strategies along with advancing research and understanding of HABs provides a strong and foundation for HAB reduction and management in New York state.

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