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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

Kathleen Kaminski
Jessica Wrench
3335 Franklin St Rd
Auburn, NY
Angela Martino-Gregory
3900 E Genesee St Rd
Auburn, NY
David Verdi
Jacobs Press
111 VanAnden St
Auburn, NY
Molly Spalding
110 E Lake Rd
Skaneateles , NY
david kukella
Husband, Dad, Grandpa
7 Adams Street
Auburn, NY
Jeff Weigand
65 Columbus St
Auburn, NY
Karen Savino
67 Burt Avenue
Auburn, New York
Stephen Ansteth
6 S Marivne Ave
Auburn, NY
Nate Vitale
90 Mary St
Auburn, NY
Jessie Reich
40 Seminary Street
Auburn, NY
Lori Casler
1341 W. Genesee St Rd
Auburn, NY
Ellen & Phil Dello Stritto
Owasco Lake resident1200c
5599 West Lake Rd.
Auburn, New York
Jay Geller
204 W 17th St
Wilmington, DE
M.Sharon Gambocorto
7626-7 Highbridge Rd.
Manlius, N.Y.
Dan Gallinger
7383 powers road
Auburn, Ny
Emma Blodgett
7 Charles Street
Auburn, New York
Gretchen Schauss
43 Lost Feather Dr
Fairport, NY
Brandon Slayton
263 State Street
Auburn, NY
Jonathan Ferrari
16 Cayuga St
Trumansburg, NY
Dylan Dearman
127 s. Seward ave
Auburn , Ny
Scott Chisholm
255 Hatfield Hill Rd
Cortland, NY
Mark Padula
6444 Parkwood Lane
Auburn, NY
ThomasArnold L Pritchard
Board President
Arnold Lake Association
305 Arnold Lake Rd
Milford, NY
Carey Eidel
5907 Broadway Road
Owasco, New York
Dave Birchenough
108East Genesee St
Skaneateles , NY
Adele Keegan
Past Commodore, present Social Director
Owasco Yacht Club
Auburn, NY
Jack Hardy
72 Chapman Ave
Auburn, NY
Jenna Powers
114 N Hoopes Ave.
Auburn, NY
Theresa Masoon
31 hickory st
auburn, ny
Ann Ball
Weedsport, NY
63 south st #12a
Auburn, New York
Tammy kukella
7 Adams Street
Auburn, NY
Scott Boyd
561 Peak Road
Stone Ridge, NY
Erin Sharpsteen
1713 State Route 34
Genoa, Ny
Michael Taggerty
25 Park Ave
Auburn, NY
John McLane
92 Willowbrook Drive
Auburn (Town of Owasco), NY 13021-9665
Carolyn Legg
3920 State Street Road
Skaneateles , NY
Karen Macier
10 Locust St
Auburn, NY
Ashley Noga
44 Morris street
Auburn, Ny
Allyson Botindari
6408 Basswood Road
Auburn, New York
Tawnya Burns
132 Franklin St
Auburn, Ny
Alyssa Keatting
7 Sheridan street
Auburn , New York
Sirena Tallman
16 woodruff pl
Auburn, Ny
Ted Evans
53 Maple St
Auburn, NY
Penny Lunkenheimer
22 Prospect Street
Auburn, NY
Marleah Sevier
2572 Manrow Road
Auburn, New York
Brian Redfield
19 East Genesee St
Auburn, New York
Mary Yurco
Owasco Yacht Club
128 Brown St.
Elbridge, NY
Chris topher Dennihy
Voational rehabilitation counselor
3565 center street road
Sennett, Ny