State to convene regional panels to discuss, develop plans to fight harmful algae blooms

Published Feb 20, 2018 at 4:00pm

New York is bringing together ecologists, biologists and local and state officials to fight the growing problem of algae blooms in upstate ponds and lakes. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced four regional summits over the next six weeks that will focus on the blooms and efforts to prevent new ones.

The blooms can affect water quality and are seen as a threat to recreational opportunities and tourism. The summits are scheduled for New Paltz on February 27, Syracuse on March 6, Ticonderoga on March 20 and Rochester on March 26. The public is invited.

Cuomo has proposed a $65 million initiative to combat the blooms.

“Protecting water quality is a top priority and New York is committed to addressing growing threats like harmful algal blooms,” Cuomo said. “These summits are bringing experts from across the country and New York leaders together with local authorities to develop new and innovative strategies to safeguard our water for future generations.”

As part of his 2018 State of the State announcements, the Governor directed the state’s Water Quality Rapid Response Team, co-chaired by Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos and Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker in partnership with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, to convene the summits. The summits will bring together national and state experts, including scientists from Kansas, Ohio, Tennessee and Vermont, as well as SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Cornell University, the New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee, and local stakeholders.

Each of the four summits will include an evening session that is open to the public where background information about harmful algal blooms will be provided. The sessions will include talks by experts, a panel discussion and an opportunity for local residents to share recommendations and ideas.

The Central New York session will be held on Tuesday, March 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the SUNY ESF Gateway Center Building, 1 Forestry Drive in Syracuse. Free parking will be available in all ESF designated lots.

At these summits, nation-leading experts will work with local steering committees to begin development of tailored action plans to address the causes of algal blooms in the twelve priority waterbodies across the state, the state announcement said. The action plans developed for each waterbody will be used to guide the development and implementation of priority projects, including new monitoring and treatment technologies. The action plans will be complete by the end of May and the lessons learned through these action plans will be applied to other impacted waterbodies.