Green Muck In ‘The Pool’ Likely Isn’t Toxic Algae, But Other Central Park Waterbodies Still Have It


Photos of the Pool in August by David Brotsky.

Toxic algae has invaded several waterbodies in Central and Morningside Parks, but one particularly mucky lake is covered in something else, the parks department tells us. The Pool, in Central Park near Central Park West and 100th Street, appears to be bathed in duckweed, a parks spokesperson tells us.

In the pictures above and below, the rich green weed appears to cover the entire area, along with lake wildlife like turtles. Duckweeds are apparently the smallest flowering plants known to man, and are “an important food source for aquatic waterfowl and fish, but can become a nuisance to humans.” In addition, duckweeds are “used for bioremediation of waterways with excessive amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen from agricultural runoff,” according to the US Forest Service.

Toxic algae continues to be a problem at Turtle Pond (near 78th-79th Street) and the Harlem Meer (106th-110th), as well as The Lake (72nd-79th). The city has been checking waterbodies in Central Park on a weekly basis since 2015 and is considering ways to stop the algae blooms in the future. “We are investigating sources of the nutrients at ponds where there are persistent problems, and working to come up with site-specific recommendations for controlling nutrients,” the spokesperson wrote.

In any case, cooler weather should stop the growth. “Harmful algae blooms dissipate when the chemistry balances or water cools.”

NEWS | 10 comments | permalink
    1. Lisa says:

      The Parks Department should put telescopic skimmers along the banks, I’m sure parkgoers would enjoy skimming off the muck. I know I would.

    2. Oona says:

      A lot of the water in Central Park is filthy. Walking in Central Park near 79th Street the other day and over a little Bridge I looked down to see a disgusting with people actually rowing on it. It would be great if the Central Park Conservatory got together with the city to bring in the big bulldozers, drain and clean up the waterways.

    3. michael says:

      Simple solution, install aerators (read, fountains). Seems the real issue would be who’s accepts responsibility to pay for installation and maintenance – Parks Department or Conservancy?

      Just do it already. Split the cost. It’s an embarrassment when I hear European tourists laugh and say, “This is disgusting.”

      • Rich says:

        You have to locate the source of the nutrients that are feeding the algae blooms.

        • michael says:

          I cannot disagree, there does seem to be some efficacy in reducing the number of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus to control HABs. However, the causative factors as well sustaining mechanisms of HABs remains poorly understood. The nutrient hypothesis is one of many possible external causes of HABs.

          Aeration, on the other hand, is an understood means to ameliorate whatever the causitive factor may be (light, runoff, temperature, turbity etc).

      • WSDrew says:

        Embarrassing? We need to make it even more disgusting if there is any change at all it will keep the European Tourist away. I hope they all go home and tell their friends and family NY is nasty, rude and gross. Good riddance!

    4. anoizy1 says:

      Maybe if they stopped fencing in every blade of grass and spent their money on cleaning the ponds and lakes the problem would be solved.