The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the start of a new research project to evaluate the potential efficacy of ultrasonic devices to reduce harmful algal blooms (HABs) on Lake Agawam in the village of Southampton on Long Island.
DEC is undertaking the research project in partnership with the village of Southampton. This research supports the HABs Action Plan (PDF) that DEC developed for Lake Agawam in 2020. The technology will be deployed later this month.
DEC experts are working with the Lake Agawam community, in collaboration with Stony Brook University, to study the use of ultrasonic devices on the lake throughout the summer of 2021. If successful, the technology could be implemented on other water bodies susceptible to HABs. In addition, the town and village of Southampton and the Lake Agawam Conservancy will be treating the lake with hydrogen peroxide-based product, GreenClean Liquid. The two HABs-reduction strategies were identified in the Lake Agawam HABs Action Plan.
Lake Agawam offers an opportunity to study multiple methods for mitigating the presence of large HABs while watershed level elements of the HAB Action Plan are implemented for long-term improvement of the lake’s water quality. Lake Agawam’s size and depth, water chemistry profile, and the presence of persistent open water HABs throughout the summer season are expected to provide optimal conditions to evaluate the use of ultrasonic technology and GreenClean Liquid.
Three ultrasonic devices will be deployed on floating, solar-powered buoys that combine continuous water quality monitoring, web-based software, and ultrasonic technology to effectively control HABs in real-time. Ultrasonic waves create a sound layer in the top layer of the water, which has a direct impact on the buoyancy of the HABs’ cells. The cells will sink to the deeper and darker layers of the water column, where the algae are unable to access light and eventually die. In addition to the study of this technology, the village of Southampton is working with a consultant to apply the aquatic pesticide GreenClean Liquid to Lake Agawam up to two times during 2021. Using this pesticide, an algal bloom’s cells and toxins are destroyed while hydrogen peroxide breaks down to oxygen and water.
In 2019, DEC deployed a mobile harvester to the lake, which separated algae from water and then returned clean water to the lake.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
New York State’s HABs program works with partners to identify, track, and report HABs throughout the state, and communicate health risks to the public. DEC maintains the NYHABS reporting system that allows both the public and trained algal bloom samplers to send reports of HABs to DEC electronically via a simple, user- and mobile phone-friendly form. These reports, once evaluated by DEC and DOH, are posted to the NYHABS page.
Photo of harmful algal bloom on Lake Agawam provided.