LCC Cyanobacteria Monitoring Program Well Underway

LCC Executive Director Lori Fisher (4th from the right) and some of the great LCC New York monitors after their training session at the Valcour Boat House. Photo by Colleen Hickey.

Hats off to the great group of dedicated cyanobacteria monitoring volunteers who are reporting on water quality from over 100 Lake Champlain shoreline locations and inland lakes. LCC has trained nearly 300 individuals this season to identify cyanobacteria, including state and municipal recreational staff and water treatment system operators. Monitors assess conditions at least weekly (and more frequently when there are blooms) from mid-June through early fall. LCC staff and partners review and vet reports daily and make them available on the cyanobacteria data tracker map housed on the Vermont Department of Health website. All you need is an internet connection to keep apprised of the latest reports. Once you get to the data tracking map, select a lake or a section of Lake Champlain and then click on the dot. The date of the last monitoring report and status of conditions will appear. Green dots indicate generally safe conditions, yellow dots note low alerts, and red dots highlight high alerts. The low and high alert ratings don't change until the next report is filed.

<link lcc-at-work algae-in-lake cyanobacteria-weekly-report-subscription _blank>Sign up online to get our cyanobacteria reports delivered to your inbox. They include an update on conditions at all our monitoring locations and are emailed weekly during the summer through the end of September. LCC developed the Lake Champlain cyanobacteria monitoring program in 2003/2004 and has overseen the citizen-based effort ever since. The focus of the program is to raise awareness of the issue, build a database of information on bloom frequency, and identify and publicize any potential health hazards. The information gathered will help us better understand the triggers for blooms and aid in the work to reduce their frequency.

Help Raise Awareness About Cyanobacteria

As people interested in water quality, please help spread the word about the risks of cyanobacteria and actions to take, particularly if you see people or pets recreating in bloom conditions. No one should drink untreated lake water regardless of whether or not there is a bloom. If you draw water from the lake and suspect a bloom near your intake, don't drink, cook, wash dishes or shower with the water. Boiling water doesn't destroy toxins and can lead to aerosolization of cyanotoxins.

Blooms are caused by a combination of warm water temperatures and high concentrations of nutrients in the water, particularly phosphorus. Reducing the supply of phosphorus is key to reducing blooms. So please continue to take actions around your home and workplace and advocate for stringent controls to reduce nutrients flowing into our waterways. Here are additional resources to help you identify blooms, keep yourself safe, and report conditions:

  • <link get-involved volunteers cyanobacteriamonitors cyanobacteria-monitoring-interest-form _blank>Sign up for a training session to learn more about cyanobacteria
  • LCC flier on how to differentiate blooms from other lake phenomena
  • <link get-involved volunteers bgamonitors algaebloomintensity _blank>LCC instructions for categorizing water conditions
  • <link get-involved volunteers bgamonitors bga-photos _blank>LCC instructions for photographing blooms and taking water samples
  • VDH Cyanobacteria Tracker Map (to get to the tracker, scroll down the page and click on “Explore the Cyanobacteria Tracker Map” as the tracker page URL doesn’t always work if we provide a direct link)
  • <link get-involved volunteers cyanobacteriamonitors cyanobacteria-monitor-reporting-form _blank>LCC cyanobacteria online reporting form