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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

Michelle Kuhfta
Auburn, NY
Karen Matsu Greenberg
922 County Road 94
Fremont Center, NY
Nicholas Guariglia
11 Sumner st
Auburn, Ny
Frank Gage
87 Erb St.
BuffLO, NY.
Robert Warfield
6 Etna Rd, A
Ithaca, Ny
Bruce McLear
205 Barrington St.
Rochester, NY
Diane Kahn
4755 Silver Street Rd
Auburn, NY
Timothy Clifford
50 Letchworth street
Auburn, Ny
Karin Wikoff
Core Group Member
Our Revolution Cayuga County
1003 Academy St
Genoa, NY
MeiMei Dennis
210 Highgate Road
Ithaca, NY
Janet Reohr
Indivisible Cayuga
4335 State Rt 34B
Union Springs, NY
Peggy Lombardo
4460 Route 275, Trlr 19
Friendship, NY
Matthew Stuart
6721 Carrie Court
Auburn, NY
Tracey Germano
11 Evans st
Auburn, NY
Stacey Keatting
Standart Ave
Auburn , New York
Jim Van Arsdale
8 Fourth Ave
Auburn, NY
Jack Cunliffe
Standart Ave
Auburn , New York
Sherene LaMontagne
161 S. Hoopes Ave
Auburn , NY
Janice Burton
3058 Slaterville Rd
Brooktondale, NY
Daniel Porten
Debra Parker
20 Bowen St
Auburn, NY
Joel Campagnola
Carpentry by campagnola
14 Morris st
Auburn , N y
Steve Parker
20 Bowen St
Auburn, NY
Susan Secaur
4392 State Rt 34b
Union springs, Ny
Joann Hill
111 Eagles Pointe Circle
Liverpool, NY
Debbie Dechick
Palmer st.
Auburn , Ny
Rebecca Scanlan
6450 victory drive
Auburn, New York
Susan Walsh
6417 Victory Dr.
Auburn, NY
gary mason
31 hickory st
auburn, ny
Ken Adams
7 MacDougall St
Auburn, New York
Kathleen Smith
14 Jarvis St
Auburn, NY
Charrene King
73 Holley Street
Auburn, NY
Laurel Ullyette
97 Franklin St
Auburn , NY
Trudy Buxenbaum
2620 Dog Corners Rd.
Aurora, N.Y.
Peggi DeAmbra
61 JCA Road
Hastings , Ny
Melinda Guido
6135 Oakridge road
Auburn, New York
Justin DeAmbra
Hwdware/ software support technician
Community Computer Service
61 JCA Rd
Hastings, NY
Peter Cramer
Silver Tree Forest Farm
13 James St
Auburn, NY
Melne Thomas
112 Crystal Beach Blvd
Moriches, New York
Denise Dailey
Auburn Permaculture Park
13 Union Street
Auburn, NY
Gregory Bacon
Carolyn Kreisel
4348 Swamp College Rd
Trumansburg, New York
Marcus Wilson
6029 Oakridge Road
Auburn, NY
Heidi Nightengale
140 Cottage Street
Auburn, NY
Jeff Falter
133 Ogden St
Penn Yan, New York
Jennifer Starr
244 East Genesee Street
Auburn, NY
Marc Storrs
30 Jarvis St
Auburn, New York
Toby Stover
Founding member
Rochester Defense Against Fracking
81 Clove Valley Road
High Falls, NY
Michelle LoGerfo
4 Balmoral Way
Homer, New York
Emily Reid
68 Anderson Ave
Fairview, NJ