An on-campus pond at Stony Brook University has been deemed unsafe, according to a report from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The state DEC reported that Roth Pond, a roughly 200-yard body of water in the center of a Stony Brook University residential housing complex, had an excessive amount of cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae. It was listed as one of seven locations in the state known to pose the risk of harming anyone who might swim or wade within it, the state said.
“Cyanobacteria are naturally present in lakes and streams in low numbers,” the state DEC said in a statement. “However, they can become abundant, forming blooms in shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red. They may produce floating scums on the surface of the water, or may cause the water to take on paint-like appearance.”
A spokeswoman for Stony Brook University said the campus’s Environmental Health and Safety Department posted blue-green algae bloom advisory signs in several locations around Roth Pond, as recommended by the state Department of Health. She said the university has already taken preventative measures to reduce and eliminate the algae, including diverting runoff, installing fountains to aerate water and implementing a geese control program.
“Roth Pond, a man-made pond, is not used for bathing or swimming,” the SBU spokeswoman said. “Blue-green algae, technically known as cyanobacteria, are naturally present in lakes and streams. There are many environmental conditions that may trigger algae bloom, including nutrient loading, sunlight, calm water and warm temperatures.”
The news of the health risk came just months after the university’s annual coveted Roth Pond Regatta, which tasks students with launching makeshift vessels across the pond to blow off steam during finals week. This year’s event set sail on May 1.
School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Professor Christopher Gobbler is an expert on blue-green algae blooms and has been working with the university’s Environmental Health and Safety Department to test the water and formulate a plan for dealing with the algae bloom, the spokeswoman said.
The state said anyone who comes in contact with the water would in turn open themselves up to the possibility of nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, skin, eye or throat irritation or allergic reactions or breathing difficulties. In order to avoid such risks, the state DEC advised that anyone who comes in contact with water that appears scummy or discolored should rinse off with clean water immediately and seek medical attention.
Other areas that were also pegged for excessive amounts of blue-green algae included McKay Lake in Calverton, Fort Pond in Montauk, Kellis Pond in Bridgehampton, Wainscott Pond in Wainscott, Agawam Lake and Mill Pond in Southampton and Marratooka Lake in Mattituck.