Toxic bath: Deadly algae blooms across Prospect Lake for fourth consecutive year

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The green death is back!

State inspectors discovered toxic algae in Prospect Lake for the fourth year running earlier this month, forcing Prospect Park’s caretakers to ban swimming around the meadow’s peninsula for fear of losing pooches — or people — to the deadly bloom, according to a Prospect Park Alliance spokeswoman.

Investigators with the state Department of Environmental Protection tested the body of water on June 19, and lab samples showed lake-wide algae blooms, according to the agency’s website.

The blue-green algae is caused by phosphates in the city’s water supply, which feeds the lake.

The aquatic plant causes a nasty rash if exposed to skin and, if ingested, can cause even more serious neurological conditions that can be fatal if untreated, according to a vet tech at Park Slope Veterinary Center.

Dog-owners should look for symptoms including excessive drooling, disorientation, difficulty breathing, convulsions, yellow-colored skin, loss of appetite, diarrhea, dark urine, and repeated vomiting, the veterinary technician said.

The state will continue testing water bodies in the park on a weekly basis, and the Prospect Park Alliance has posted signs around the lake informing park goers of the potential danger, according to the conservancy’s spokeswoman.

Algae has yet to be found in the park’s Upper Pool, where Dog Beach is located, and the canines’ swimming hole remains open, the spokeswoman said.

The Prospect Park Alliance received $390,000 from the state in February to create natural filtration systems at two points where city water enters the lake, which are intended to reduce the amount of algae–causing phosphates in the water.

But there is currently no timeline for the filtration project, and the rep said more information will be provided when the conservancy is ready to begin work on it.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:57 pm, July 9, 2018
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