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Coalition Letter Which Requests That Governor Cuomo Take Urgent Action to Eliminate Water Quality Impairments That Cause Cyanobacteria Harmful Algal Blooms Across New York State

Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
The Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo:

We, the undersigned, write to request that you take urgent action to eliminate water quality impairments which have caused cyanobacteria Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in Skaneateles Lake, Owasco Lake, Cayuga Lake, Seneca Lake, Hemlock Lake, Canadice Lake and dozens of other New York waterbodies.

See: Photos of Harmful Algal Blooms on Owasco and Cayuga Lake 2017

See: Map of Reported Harmful Algal Blooms in New York State 2017

This unprecedented public health threat warrants your utmost attention because cyanobacteria HABs have released neurotoxins into waterbodies which supply drinking water to more than 300,000 residents of Skaneateles, Auburn, Syracuse, Rochester, Ithaca and many other communities.

New York's Long-Standing Failure to Adopt Comprehensive Clean Up Programs for Impaired Waters Listed in the National 303(d) Registry

Your administration's long-standing failure to clean up impaired waters imperils critical water supply sources, regional economic hubs, irreplaceable natural resources and local property values. We respectfully request that your administration resolve this problem as a top priority without further delay.

New York has a total of 219 waterbodies included in the National 303(d) Registry of Impaired Waters which require comprehensive Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) clean up programs. More than half of those waters are impaired by excessive phosphorus and nitrogen which can cause cyanobacteria HABs.

The pace of your administration's clean up efforts is woefully inadequate. More than half of the 219 impaired waters were listed prior to 2004 and still do not have TMDLs. No TMDLs have been adopted for 14 impaired waters listed in 1998. Only 15 impaired waters are scheduled for TMDL clean ups through 2022. New York has no plans to adopt TMDLs for more than 200 impaired waters.

See: New York State 2016 Section 303(d) List of Impaired Waters Requiring a TMDL/Other Strategy

Given New York's extensive cyanobacteria HAB problems, we request that you drastically accelerate the clean up of National 303(d) Registry nutrient impairments which threaten drinking water sources, including six reservoirs.

We request that your administration adopt a TMDL within two years for each waterbody in the 303(d) Registry which experienced a cyanobacteria HAB which threatened drinking water. A TMDL should be adopted within five years for each new impaired waterbody added to the National 303(d) Registry.

The Cautionary Tale of Cayuga Lake

Cayuga Lake exemplifies the perils of your administration's water pollution clean up delays. The southern lake was included in the National 303(d) Registry in 2002 when a TMDL was required as a "high priority" to address "phosphorus and silt/sediment" impairments. To this day, no TMDL has ever been proposed to clean up the lake's massive algal blooms and aquatic weed infestations.

In August 2017, a cyanobacteria HAB prohibited public bathing at Taughannock State Park and threatened drinking water for thousands of residents. Until then, Cayuga Lake had never experienced a major cyanobacteria HAB.

New York State exacerbated Cayuga Lake's pollution problems by improperly granting a 1998 permit which allowed Cornell's Lake Source Cooling facility to discharge phosphorus into the area of the lake with the worst water quality impairments. The Clean Water Act specifically prohibits issuing a discharge permit for any project that through its construction or operation will cause or contribute to water quality violations.

In 1999, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a landmark clean up plan to safeguard Cayuga Lake from Lake Source Cooling's phosphorus discharges after concerns gained national attention in The New York Times, but New York and Cornell opposed EPA's plan and it was never adopted.

See: Aid to Environment, Or Threat to Lake?; Cornell Pursues Pumping Plan, But Critics Fear Fouled Water

According to Cornell's own 2008 Before-After-Control-Impact Study, chlorophyll α, a measure of biological activity, increased by nearly 50% after Lake Source Cooling began operation. As a result, algae and weed growth greatly increased.

Another Cornell study documented in 2016 that Lake Source Cooling contributes about five percent of all the phosphorus discharged onto the shallow "shelf" in Southern Cayuga Lake where water quality exceeds state standards.

After 19 years of polluting Cayuga Lake, the Lake Source Cooling discharge must be moved "off the shelf" so that phosphorus can be returned to the lake's depths without causing HABs. This is precisely what EPA proposed in 1999.


New York is facing a cyanobacteria HAB drinking water threat of huge proportions. Skaneateles and Auburn, NY have both come within less than one tenth of a part per billion of not being able to fulfill EPA's 10-day health advisory that limits cyanobacteria microcystins in drinking water to 0.3 micrograms/liter for children under six years of age. Another potent neurotoxin called homo-anatoxin was just identified in Owasco Lake.

In order to eliminate all future HAB cyanobacteria hazards, we respectfully request that you implement our proposed plan of action without delay. We also ask that you adopt Maximum Contaminant Levels for cyanobacteria toxins in drinking water and upgrade treatment plants to remove these contaminants in order to safeguard public health.

We trust that you will find it self-explanatory, but please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions.

Very best regards,

Total Signatory Count: 1526

kathy bullard
265 e. main st
elbridge, NY
Ruth Herrier
1066 University Avenue
SALINAS, California
Carl and Kristy Weber
Owasco Lake homeowner/Auburn business owner
388 Firelane 23
Moravia, NY
Maggie Dorsey-Nocilly
6660 East Lake Rd.
Owasco, NY
Monique Chevrette
4548 West Lake rd
Auburn, Ny
Maureen McGee
5905 Buckboard Trl
Flagstaff, AZ
Ray Barnard
50 Jefferson St # 3
Auburn, New York
Greg Lattimore
4 shearin
Auburn, Ny
Kathryn McCann
569 Surfwind Dr. W
Murrells inlet, South Carolina
Dawn Reilley
312 Stonewood ln
Baldwinsville, NY
Alejandra Artieda
99 Grand Ave Apt 3A
Rockville Centre, NY
Timi OConnell
Moravia, Ny
james coppola
348 poplar beach PO box 247
auburn, ny
John Edward Putnam
67 Park Avenue
New York, NY
Renee Jensen
Moravia, NY
Kevin Gleason
11 Calloway Dr
Auburn , NY
Jean VanBrocklin
8532 Radford Avenue
Alexandria, VA
Madison Rice
Save owasco now
2679 benson rd
Skaneateles , Ny
Nichole Liddle
4983 state route 34
Auburn, NY
Elizabeth Hennessy
6062 west lake road
Auburn, NY
Tish Evans
7324 West Dead Creek Road
Baldwinsville, New York
Janesy Gravelin
18749 Ackerman Ave.
Port Charlotte, Fl
John Vasile
Save Owasco Now
2679 Benson Rd
Skaneateles , Ny
Judy Henderson
117 Coyote Drive
Maineville , Oh
Linda Rogers
1625 Silverwood Ct. SE
Bolivia, North Carolina
Kate Hoadley
5914 petre drive
auburn, ny
Michelle Faulk
Computer Clerk
1610 Park St.
Syracuse, NY
linda vitale
6181 East Lake Road
Auburn, New York
Judy Parker
882 Franklin St
Skaneateles, NY
salvatore vitale
6181 East lake Road
Auburn, New York
Scott Gallaro
30 Saint Anthony Street
Auburn, NY
Christie Sommers
6056 West Lake Rd
Auburn, NY
Nancy Connery
36 Fairway Drive
Auburn, NY
Michael Donnelly
425 Waters Edge
Auburn, NY
Michael Connery
36 Fairway Dr
Auburn, NY
Sandra Bocek
21861 Maidens Crossing Drive
Kingwood, TX
Ann alle Keough
6064 West Lake Road
Auburn, NY
Diana Lamphere
107 Ross Pl #2
Auburn , NY
John Alissa drills Jr.
355 waters Edge
Auburn, NY
Emily Burt
resident, grandmother, and dog owner on owasco lake n.y.
moravia, new york
James Lattimore
350 Poplar Beach
Auburn , New York
Sherri Nicolosi
2700 Forest Hill Drive
Auburn, NY
Brenda Solomon
Brenda Solomon
705 W Buena Ave. 3C
Chicago, IL
Jackie Jablonski
15 Northview Rd
Ithaca, New York
Scott Jackson
459 Fire Lane 30
Moravia, NY
James Kleiber
Honoco Road Homeowners Association
1701 Hococo Road
Aurora, NY
anne currier
138 Standart Avenue, unit 202
Auburn, NY
Nancy a Spaulding
2827 East Lake Rd
Skaneateles, NY
Margaret Mary Swartz
6060 West Lake Rd
Auburn, New York