July 12, 2011

County DOH Monitoring Beach Daily

News Photo
County Executive: ‘Public’s Health Our Priority’
Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente today confirmed that the Health Department is continuing to monitor the situation daily at Sylvan Beach, a situation that has resulted in a portion of Oneida Lake being closed to swimmers since last Thursday due to blue-green algae in the water.
“I directed the County Health Department to take samples of the water this morning and personally deliver them to the Wadsworth Labs in Albany, in order to expedite the test process. This was done and the most recent result of this testing was that the blue-green algae content was still at an unacceptable level. While we are sensitive to the negative impact closing the beaches to swimmers might have on the village economy, my first responsibility, and that of the Health Department, is to protect public health,” Picente said.
The County Executive added that he wants visitors’ experiences at Sylvan Beach to be only positive ones.
“The last thing we would want is for someone to visit Sylvan Beach and become ill after swimming in the water. We also do not want to jeopardize the public’s safety by allowing swimming in murky conditions where someone in distress might not be seen by lifeguards,” Picente said. 
Oneida County Health Department inspectors found the high concentrations of blue-green algae while performing routine inspections last Thursday and advised Sylvan Beach officials of the possible risks to swimmers. Town officials then decided to close the beach area to swimming. Similar conditions, which have restricted swimming at the Verona State Park, are being monitored by the New York State Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
Health Department officials say that blue-green algae produces toxins that can cause skin and eye irritation upon contact. If ingested, nose and throat irritation, disorientation, upset stomach and respiratory problems could occur. 
Picente indicated that the waters will be sampled and tested every day until the conditions are such that the Health Department would recommend the resumption of swimming at Sylvan Beach. The County Executive also stated that the role of the County in this matter is advisory only. The decision to close the beach to swimmers must be made by Village officials. 
Oneida County Partners