Lake Champlain

A view of Lake Champlain from Mount Defiance in Ticonderoga on Friday, July 13 is seen. North of this spot in Moriah, beaches were closed due to harmful algae.

MORIAH — The Bulwagga Bay Beach and Port Henry Champ Beach on Lake Champlain were closed over the weekend because of harmful algal blooms.

They will reopen after state health officials test the water and deem it safe.

In a statement to The Post-Star, DOH said the closures were based on visual observations of blooms. Bulwagga Bay Beach closed on July 19 and Port Henry Champ Beach closed on July 21.

Harmful algae is another name for cyanobacteria, a kind of photosynthesizing bacteria that sometimes produces toxins. Exposure can cause respiratory problems, diarrhea, nausea, skin rash and other health complications. Cyanobacteria toxins have also been known to kill dogs.

While not all blooms have toxins, the state encourages people and their pets to stay out of them.

The state’s protocol for reopening a beach includes testing the water for toxins after the water is bloom-free for 24 hours. Once that sample is taken, the state’s lab at the Wadsworth Center will test for microcystin, a kind of liver toxin that some harmful algal blooms produce.

If the toxin levels are less than 4 micrograms per liter, the beach may be reopened to swimming.

DOH said a water sample was supposed to be collected by the town Monday morning and sent to the Wadsworth Center for testing. That beach could be reopened as soon as Tuesday.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation releases a weekly report of harmful algal blooms. The DEC reported 45 water bodies on its list as of Friday, though none were confirmed in Warren, Washington or Saratoga counties.

To view the DEC’s cyanobacteria notifications page, visit dec.ny.gov/chemical/83310.html. To view Lake Champlain’s notification page, visit apps.health.vermont.gov/vttracking/cyanobacteria/2018/d/index.html.

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Reporter Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (518) 742-3238 or gcraig@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter



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