State adds Seneca Lake to water quality study
ALBANY--Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday, Aug. 29 Seneca Lake's inclusion in New York State's $65 million initiative to combat the growth of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in upstate New York. The program joins state and federal researchers with "cutting-edge advances in data collection and monitoring to identify contributing factors causing HABs."
"Protecting water quality is a top priority to ensure safe drinking water and the health of New Yorkers," Cuomo stated. "This pilot program will allow us to continue to monitor the status of harmful algal blooms across our lakes, but more importantly, will help us to gather crucial information that will assist us as we work to eliminate these blooms altogether," Cuomo stated.
During the March 2018 State of the State address, Cuomo deployed the Water Quality Rapid Response Team--consisting of personnel from the Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Health and Department of Agriculture and Markets--to convene a series of regional summits across the state.
Water quality summits have joined experts from the national, state and local levels to discuss the development and mitigation of HAB growth for a list of 12 "priority lakes," which included Skaneateles and Owasco Lakes. As of last Wednesday, this list includes Seneca Lake.
In August, project researchers administered two advanced monitoring stations in Skaneateles Lake to provide insight into the development, duration, and effects on water quality of HABs, according to the press release. Project researchers plan to administer additional monitoring stations in Owasco and Seneca Lakes in mid-September.
Stations include tools that measure temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, chlorophyll fluorescence and phycocyanin fluorescence.
Regional and state officials commended Cuomo for his attention to what Senator Tom O'Mara, chair of the environmental conservation committee, called an "environmental crisis."
"A stronger understanding of the scope of algal blooms and risks they pose to local communities and local environments will make us better prepared to effectively eliminate this threat to our lakes and minimize future damage," O'Mara stated.
State and local officials view Seneca Lake's contamination by HABs as more than an environmental issue because it threatens public access to clean water and central New York's robust tourist economy.
"Seneca Lake is one of our greatest assets, and any threat to this waterbody poses a danger to both our residents and our economy," Schuyler County Administrator Timothy O'Hearn said. "As we fight to protect this incredible natural resource, we are stymied by the fact that there is little known about harmful algal blooms and their long term effects on both the environment and human health."