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News from the Noteworthy

Algae Bloom Affects Lake Activities

The summer of 2022 will be remembered as the year our beloved Lake Otsego first suffered a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB).

The conditions which allow a HAB to occur are known. This column reviews Village of Cooperstown public beaches, boat launch sites and most importantly, Village drinking water.

The SUNY Oneonta Biological Field Station (BFS) has monitored lake conditions for decades. This summer, when Glimmerglass State Park first noted an algae bloom on July 27 and closed, BFS began twice weekly testing at locations around the lake. The results of those tests are on their website —

Per NYS Department of Health (DOH) guidelines a microcystin level greater than 4.0 µg/liter (micrograms per liter) is unsafe. BFS testing found microcystin levels in Hyde Bay and at the BFS station in Rat Cove at times exceeded 40.0 µg/liter. The Village appreciates BFS testing and appreciates The Fernleigh Foundation for underwriting testing costs into October.

The Village’s Fairy Spring and Three Mile parks have swimming areas. When the HAB was found at Glimmerglass, DOH signage on HABs was posted in the parks, on our website, and Facebook page.

Caretakers at each park performed daily visual inspections of the water. On Monday August 15, what looked like pollen in the water was observed at Three Mile. Testing indicated slightly over 5.0 µg/liter of microcystin. We closed Three Mile for swimming. It was reopened after test results on August 18 indicated the level had dropped to 0.7 µg/liter.

Unfortunately, the August 18 testing indicated that the level was high at Fairy Spring Park (8.0 µ/liter) and that park was closed for swimming for several days.

Annually Three Mile and Fairy Spring close for the season on Labor Day. Although the waters were safe, the swim areas were occasionally closed prior to Labor Day due to a lifeguard shortage.

The Village has two public boat launches, Fish Road and Fair Street. There are five privately owned launches on Otsego Lake which can also be used by the public. Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) are a contributor to HABs. However, the Village is the only launch site which employs three boat stewards to inspect watercraft. Stewards funded by the Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP), and the Village of Cooperstown are trained to identify AIS. They inspect, document and assist to decontaminate watercraft before they enter Lake Otsego. There is a disposal box for AIS material. With funding assistance from the Otsego Lake Association, the Village installed in 2017 the only boat wash station on Otsego Lake. This decontamination facility on Fish Road is equipped with a high pressure and temperature spray.

While motorboats are often viewed as the “culprits” for AIS, the BFS has warned for years that kayaks and canoes, which are able to be launched at any place along a shoreline, are more likely to transport AIS.

Finally, Otsego Lake serves as the drinking water source for the Village of Cooperstown.

Our municipal water system is regulated by the NYS Department of Health, and follows standards set by the EPA. The Village’s water treatment plant ensures water purity in a multi-step process. The chlorine used for disinfection kills bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms, including microcystins. All these processes along with daily testing ensure the safety of our drinking water. The Water Department files an Annual Drinking Water Quality Report with NYS, which provides much greater detail on our water system and the testing. The 2021 Report is on the Village website under Water and Sewer.

Ellen Tillapaugh
Mayor of Cooperstown


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