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Improved Signage for Blue-green Algae Blooms

08 • 22 • 2018

Improved Signage for Blue-green Algae Blooms

Cyanobacteria - otherwise known as blue green algae, can be harmful to people and pets who contact it in waterbodies. The Eastern Long Island Chapter is seeking better warning signs on water bodies experiencing blue-green algae blooms.

The Eastern Long Island Chapter's Blue Water Task Force samples local waterways for bacteria that can be harmful to humans. Although they do not sample for blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), the chapter is aware of the dangers and health implications of coming into contact with a body of water with a bloom. Water sampling volunteers keep an eye on the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)’s Harmful Algal Blooms Notifications Page to know which of our favorite beaches are experiencing a blue-green algae bloom. Water quality samplers noticed inconsistencies with the signs that were being posted at beaches while water bodies were experiencing blooms.

The signs tended to be misleading (saying “no swimming-deep water”), or were located in the parking lot, nowhere near the access point. The chapter worked with the State Department of Health, State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, East Hampton and Southampton Town Trustees to improve signage located at beaches to properly warn beachgoers about the dangers of coming into contact with a blue-green algae blooms. Surfrider requested that the signs be:

  • easy to understand,
  • include icons that can be interpreted by non-native English speakers,
  • and be located at the point of access in order to adequately present the health risk.

Since, the State and County have both developed new signs to be posted in the case of Cyanobacteria Blooms. The State Department of Health released a new sign template that can be found on the NYSDOH Blue-Green Algae HAB web page. Each County then tailors this template and their regional needs.

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services took this template and created their new and improved Harmful Algal Bloom Warning Sign, follow this link. Under Environmental Quality, click “Ecology,” and the sign is named “Cyano_Advisory_Non-Reg_Sign_2018.pdf.” Preview the sign below!

The Chapter was able to officially call this a victory when a new and improved sign was posted in August 2018 at Sagg Pond, in Sagaponack, NY! The Chapter will continue to work with all levels of government to ensure that waters with blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms are posted in a timely manner.