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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

Nicholas Chapman
43 n Fulton st
Auburn , Ny
Holly Mosher
133 S Fulton St
Auburn, NY
Rhonda Miller
Citizen at large
Woodlawn Ave
Auburn , NY
Francis Barwinczak
6 Hurd Circle
Auburn, New York
John Breeze
Stephen Rich
9 Mary St
Auburn , NY
Steven and Cynthia Fland
Owasco Lake resident and OWLA
22 Park Street
Moravia, New York
Lisa Middleton
Maureen Burns
51 Burt Ave
Auburn , NY
Karen Stamm
366 Broadway
New York, NEW YORK
Mary Fronczek
12 Alden Ave, Ny
Melissa Jenkin
CST RAEN Program Coordinator
Cayuga Community College
247 Wheat Street
Cayuga, NY
Zachary Waby
79 Ross St
Auburn, NY
Cary fassler
398 state rte. 69 (Amboy)
williamstown, NY
Christina Tomasso
9 Wood St
Auburn, NY
Amanda Clifford
50 Letchworth St
Auburn, NY
Debra Rovitz
134 Woolf Lane
Ithaca, New York
william mathews
8 Wintergreen Way, .
Rochester, NY
Donald Mintz
Professor emeritus
Montclair State University
29 Whig Street
Trumansburg, NY
roberta wallitt
520 coddington rd
ithaca, New York
Mary Smith
Communications Coordinator
Church Women United in New York State
2001 S Clinton Ave
Rochester, NY
Vincent Giannettino
24 Howard Street
Auburn, Ny
John Huntley
51 Mary St
Auburn, NY
Tyler Wilson
, New York
Carolyn Clark Pierson
Professional Tutor
5262 County Highway 14
Treadwell, New York
Timothy Clark
140 Pine Tree Rd
Ithaca, New York
Ryan Noga
44 Morris Street
Auburn, New York
Kirsten Wise
Cayuga Museum
Syracuse, NY
Joe Salzone
Magdalen Gillard
Occupational Thaerapist
Racker Centers
110 Woolf Lane
Ithaca, NY
william Foster
8 brae ridge
auburn, ny
Gordon and Linda Smith
265 Merrill Creek Rd
Marathon, NY
Allison Orr-McCoy
6073 Oakridge Rd
Auburn, NY
Ramsey Brous
42 Sparrow Crest
Ithaca, NY
Mary Payne McCarthy
249 South Hoopes Ave.
Auburn, NY
Kathyn Scozzari
2831 Fleming Scipio Townline Rd
Auburn, NY
Tom Woods
226 Perrine Ave
Auburn, NY
Nichole Winslow
24 S Hunter Ave
Auburn, NY
Ken DeLapp
Auburn , Ny
Mackenzie Cunningham
Auburn, New York
Ginny Kent
169 East Genesee St.
Auburn, NY
Thomas Minicucci
Managing Partner
Health Central (Medical Office Facility)
37 West Garden Street
Auburn, NY
Michael Bruton
1 VandenBosch Ave.
Auburn, NY
Robert Gagnier, Jr.
20 Van Patten St
Auburn, NY
Michael Fimano
4958 Martin road
Auburn, Ny
Tom Walsh
12 Plunkie Point Road
Moravia, New Yorkcg
Beth Wride
5607 Dunning Ave
Auburn, NY
Aryn Morrison
529 Whittier Ave
Syracuse , NY
chris marx
326 Stone Quarry Rd
Ithaca, New York
mary gardner
2411 wave way
skaneateles, ny