New Technologies Being Developed to Combat Harmful Algal Blooms in Upstate New York

Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)—neither pretty nor safe—have been an ongoing issue in certain Upstate New York lakes and other bodies of water. However, it appears that some good news has arrived for those otherwise bucolic upstate areas. Recently, the state of New York announced that new HAB mitigation technologies—being developed by Clarkson University and SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF)—are being tested: hydrodynamic cavitation with hydrogen peroxide, and electrochemical oxidation filtration.

According to the DEC, “Both treatment systems are designed to collect algae-laden water near the surface, clarify and clean the water then return the water back to the lake.” The expected study using these treatment systems is said to include “rigorous water quality monitoring within each treatment system” and will evaluate plots in the lake before, during, and after treatments to determine the effectiveness of the technologies.

Relatedly, it also was announced in late July 2020 that the DEC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), led by the Engineer Research and Development Center, will pursue a collaborative project to study “an innovative HAB removal technology called the Harmful Algal Bloom Interception, Treatment, and Transformation System (HABITATS)” on an Upstate New York lake. According to the DEC, the remediation system is will similarly “collect algae-laden water near the surface, clarify and clean the water then return the water back to the waterbody.”

The DEC encourages New Yorkers to “know it, avoid it, report it.” The naturally occurring 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.” And the DEC advises that people, pets, and livestock “should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has algal scums on the surface.” HABs can be reported on the New York DEC’s website.

Pilot studies are currently being analyzed and will be released when they are available.