James Fischer will be presenting the Bantam Lake Cyanos project at the 57th annual Northeast Algal Society Symposium. Bantam Lake Cyanos is the wildly popular platform that Amanda Keilty developed to communicate weekly cyanobacteria assessment and strategies that people can use to make informed decisions regarding their recreational activities. Bantam Lake Cyanos consisted of a website that communicates how people can make better decisions to reduce their impact on the lake ecosystem. The smartphone app encouraged users to upload images of scums observed on the lake and facilitated a citizen science approach to help lake managers. Bantam Lake Cyanos is a collaborative project with Bantam Lake Protective Association who contracted Northeast Aquatic Research to perform the weekly assessments and monitoring.
The Northeast Algal Society Symposium is being held at the University of New Haven on April 13 - 15, 2018. The theme for the symposium is "Broaden Your Impact" which will inspire a discussion of how to communicate research to a broader audience. Several noteworthy environmental reporters have been invited to address the group. More information about the symposium can be found here.
James Fischer, White Memorial Conservation Center
Amanda Keilty, Johnson State College
George Knoecklein, Northeast Aquatic Research
Constance Trolle, Bantam Lake Protective Association
Saving Lakes One App and Website at a Time
ABSTRACT:Bantam Lake experiences cyanobacteria blooms annually, but the bloom of 2016 was unusually intense and sustained. It ultimately resulted in beach closures and restricted lake usage when seasonal use was at its highest. As a result, incidence/crisis communication to stakeholders became the primary job for the Bantam Lake Protective Association. The BLPA decided that a proactive approach was necessary in 2017. They contracted Northeast Aquatic Research for weekly assessments of cyanobacteria activity (cell counts/ml) and other lake measurements to effectively manage the blooms. This data was also useful when informing stakeholders about the state of the lake. We developed Bantam Lake Cyanos as a communication portal that provides up-to-date forecasts of cyanobacteria activity and other lake measurements via a website and smartphone app. The website also informs visitors of the health risks associated with blooms and the daily decisions they could make to reduce nutrient run-off, which aids in the bloom growth and formation. App users shared images of blooms, thereby turning them into citizen scientists and alerting lake managers of changes to the lake. We will review usage statistics for these communication portals that indicates their relevance to stakeholders.